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ICANN Seeks Expressions of Interest from Auction Design Experts

18 January 2008

ICANN is seeking expressions of interest from entities experienced in developing and managing auction processes. ICANN has identified several areas where auctions might be an appropriate tool, such as the efficient disposition of data from terminated registrars and registries, the allocation of single-character second-level domain names, and perhaps, resolution of contention between competing commercial applicants for identical strings in the application process for new generic Top Level Domains.

A number of commenters and academics have recommended auctions as the preferred method of objectively allocating scarce resources such as popular second-level domain names or gTLD strings. Also, ICANN received substantial public comment in the discussion on allocation of single-character second-level names that the names should be allocated through an auction model.

ICANN is an internationally organized non-profit public benefit organization that administers certain features of the Internet’s unique identifiers. As a private-public partnership, ICANN is dedicated to preserving the operational stability of the Internet; to promoting competition; to achieving broad representation of global Internet communities; and to developing policy appropriate to its mission through bottom-up, consensus-based processes. A general description of ICANN is available at http://icann.org/tr/english.html.


As recommended by the GNSO Council, ICANN commenced a Forum on Allocation Methods for Single-Letter and Single-Digit Domain Names in gTLD registries. ICANN conducted the public forum from 16 October to 15 December 2007.

The Forum on Allocation Methods identified support from members of the ICANN community and described several auction models of single-letter and single-digit domain names at the second-level (see 16 October 2007 announcement at http://www.icann.org/announcements/announcement-16oct07.htm, and Summary of Comments located at http://www.icann.org/public_comment/single-letter-summary-comments-23dec07.pdf [PDF, 61K]. If these models are pursued, ICANN staff has determined that the additional knowledge and expertise on auctions is necessary to further work in this area.

Although implementation plans are still in development, ICANN staff has also identified auctions as a possibility of final resort for addressing string contention among multiple applicants for popular new generic TLDs. Additional guidance on auctions will be beneficial as staff moves toward the introduction of new gTLDs in the near future.

In furtherance of the protection of registrants, auctions also provide a mechanism for addressing the termination or failure of accredited registrars and gTLD registries and the efficient transfer of names to a competent, on-going registrar or registry.


Entities interested in submitting Expressions of Interest should be experienced in areas of auction design, management and implementation. Prior experience with telecommunications, Internet or domain name, energy/utility or other asset auctions would be particularly relevant.

Expressions of Interest

Expressions of interest should be sent to Patrick Jones, at patrick.jones@icann.org by 23:59 UTC on 18 February 2008. ICANN is hoping to select a qualified entity or entities to assist with auctions in 2008.

Accordingly, ICANN is eager to commence a dialogue to determine whether your service is interested and would be capable of assisting ICANN with the development and management of auction processes. ICANN requests Expressions of Interest from potential entities that include information showing that your organization can fulfill the requirements set forth above, as well as background information about your organization, appropriate experience and additional qualifications you believe would be relevant, but that are not addressed above.