(15 May 2001) Marina del Rey, California, USA. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced today that it has finalized accreditation agreements with the new .biz and .info top-level domain (TLD) registries. This will mark the first introduction of new global top-level domains since the mid 1980s when the current domain name system became operational. These new registries will add to the already familiar registries such as .com, .org, and .edu.
"This is a momentous step forward in the continuing evolution of the Internet's domain name system," said Vint Cerf, Chairman of the ICANN Board of Directors. "However, it is just one step among many in a long process of providing consumers with the benefits of competition through a variety of domain name options and services."
Dot-info will be an unrestricted TLD, open to any business or person to register for any purpose. Dot-biz will be a restricted TLD open only for commercial or business purposes and .biz names are not intended for exclusively personal or non-commercial purposes.
Registry operators NeuLevel (.biz) and Afilias (.info) were among seven registry operators for new TLDs selected by the ICANN Board of Directors in November 2000 following an open process for submission of proposals. Agreements with the operators of .aero, .coop, .museum, .name, and .pro are expected shortly.
This first round of new TLDs is considered a "proof of concept" to test and examine different types of top-level domains, registry business models, and procedures for ensuring the technical stability of the Internet as new TLDs are added. While ICANN has been working with the new registries to ensure that the start-up phase for registration is fair and easy to understand, it is inevitable that there will be challenges.
The proof of concept will also allow for a technical assessment of the effect of the introduction of new TLDs on performance of the Internet's domain name system. The ICANN Protocol Supporting Organization, made up of the Internet's leading technical standards organizations, had advised ICANN to proceed cautiously since there has been no experience of adding new TLDs in many years, and the effect on performance and stability of adding a large number of new TLDs is uncertain.
All ICANN accredited registrars in good standing for .com, .net and .org will be eligible to enter into revised accreditation agreements for the new TLDs. Currently, there are more than 170 companies accredited with approximately 80 operational. A list of accredited registrars can be found at <http://www.icann.org/registrars//accredited-list.html>.
To provide for a stable, fair, and orderly introduction of the new TLDs, NeuLevel and Afilias will employ different three-step approaches to launch their registry services:
1. Intellectual Property Claim Service. Beginning in late May through the beginning of July, .biz will offer a fee-based service for businesses to submit trademark claims before the application process is opened. Under this service, domain-name applicants will be notified of a trademark owner's claim when they submit an application for a claimed name and, if they decide to go ahead with the registration, the business submitting the claim will be notified of the registration and will be given a window of opportunity to challenge the registration using an administrative dispute resolution procedure.
2. Domain Name Application and Selection. Beginning in July through late September, .biz will open the application process for businesses. Businesses will submit their applications through registrars; these applications will be randomly selected in batches and awarded. Businesses can submit an unlimited number of applications but there will be a $2.00 fee for each application for a .biz name.
3. .biz Begins Operations. In October, .biz names that have been awarded will become operational. .biz will use a Restriction Dispute Resolution Process (RDRP) similar to the ICANN UDRP process to resolve challenges related to the business-only restricted nature of the registry.
1. Sunrise Period. Beginning in late June and ending in late July, Afilias will offer a 30 day "sunrise" period during which anyone with a registered national trademark can apply through a registrar for a .info domain name corresponding to the trademark. Trademark data will be provided at the time of application and the term of the domain name registration will be for at least 5 years. To assure fair and equal access during the sunrise period, registrars will first collect applications and deliver them to Afilias. Afilias will then implement a multi-round batch processing system in which it will randomly select applications from each registrar's batch. The World Intellectual Property Association (WIPO) will administer a challenge procedure through which any third party may challenge these sunrise period registrations to ensure that they comply with the applicable requirements. This challenge process will be available for approximately 120 days after Afilias begins accepting applications for .info domain names from the general public, ending in November.
2. Domain Name Application and Registration. Within 15 days after the conclusion of the sunrise period, Afilias will begin accepting applications for .info domain names from the general public. To ensure that ordinary Internet users have an equal chance to register names during the initial launch phase, .info names will be registered using a multi-round batch process similar to the one used for sunrise period applications. Using this process, Afilias will randomly select applications from batches submitted by each registrar. This process is an alternative to a pure first-come-first-served system which could operate to the unfair advantage of those with mechanized registration scripts. This batch process will last approximately three weeks, after which Afilias will process applications on a real-time basis.
3. .info Begins Operations. Names awarded during the sunrise period will become operational one week after the beginning of the general application and registration process. The remainder of the awarded .info names will become operational promptly after Afilias processes them.
As a reminder, there are no officially sanctioned pre-registration services. The processes to be followed by the new registry operators are designed to be fair to all applicants regardless of when they submit their application. Costs will vary based on registrar used and on the services provided by that registrar. It is expected that retail pricing for both .biz and .info names should be comparable to existing TLDs .com, .org and .net.
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