The first public comment period on the Draft Applicant Guidebook for new gTLDs has closed. The period opened on 24 October 2008, and was 76 days long after it closed 7 January to account for later publication of the Guidebook in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish. ICANN continued to receive and accept English comments received until the January 7 deadline considering the end of year holidays.
The comment period received over 300 comments from participants from 24 different countries. Among the many participants were individuals and organizations representing intellectual property interests, brand owners, business owners, ICANN supporting organizations, domain name industry players, and governments.
"This level of interest and feedback to the Draft Guidebook shows that the comment process is working. All the comments and concerns will be considered and a response will be provided" said Paul Levins, Executive Officer and Vice President Corporate Affairs.
Some of the key concerns raised by the community that are immediately obvious are:
- Brand protection issues and the impact on brands and trademark owners
- Financial considerations, including evaluation fees, ongoing registry fees, and refund procedures
- Various issues surrounding the proposed registry agreement, particularly, price controls, registry/registrar separation, the management of future agreement amendments, equitable treatment, and others
- General comments and concerns related to expanding the top level and its impact on the global marketplace, specific industries and Domain Name System stability.
"There is no doubt that we need to address these and other legitimate concerns before proceeding to open the application process" said Mr Levins.
Respondents had the option to comment on the Guidebook as a whole or on one of its six modules. Just over half (55 percent), chose to comment on the Guidebook; the restcommented on specific modules or topics. The fifth module, covering the base agreement between new registries and ICANN, received the most comments (around 30 percent).
The responses are now being summarized and evaluated. A comprehensive analysis of the comments will be released in early February.
"We will also be holding conferences in different global locations to further explain the Guidebook, the changes envisaged and to have further dialogue. Alongside the feedback received from these and other outreach events, the summary and analysis will inform ICANN staff through the next program development phase, which will mean amending the current guidebook" Mr Levins said.
"I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those that contributed their responses to the first public comment period. ICANN looks forward to continuing a productive dialogue on this that will result in amendments to the application process" Levins said.
New gTLDs and the Internet
Openness Change Innovation
After years of discussion and thought, generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are being expanded. They will allow for more innovation, choice and change to a global Internet presently served by just 21 generic top-level domain names.
A draft Applicant Guidebook has been developed with opportunities for public comment. The draft Guidebook describes processes for objections to applications. There has been detailed technical scrutiny to ensure the Internet’s stability and security. There will be an evaluation fee, but it will recover costs only (expenses so far, application processing and other costs) and it will be reviewed after the first round of applications. ICANN is a not for profit corporation dedicated to coordinating the Internet’s addressing system. If fee collection exceeds expenses, the community will be consulted as to how that excess is to be used.
Promoting competition and choice is one of the principles upon which ICANN was founded. In a world with 1.5 billion Internet users (and growing), diversity, choice and innovation are key. The Internet has supported huge increases in choice, innovation and the competition of ideas and expanding new gTLDs is an opportunity for more.
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