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Public Comment: GNSO Policy Development Process on Vertical Integration Between Registries and Registrars

29 March 2010

The GNSO Council is seeking comments regarding the commencement of a policy development process on the topic of vertical integration1 between registries and registrars. The public comment period ends on 18 April 2010.


The GNSO Council has commenced a policy development process (PDP) on the topic of vertical integration between registrars and registries. The GNSO Council formed a working group to evaluate whether policy recommendations, if any, should be developed on the topic of vertical integration between registrars and registries affecting both new gTLDs and existing gTLDs. The working group expects to define the range of restrictions on vertical separation that are currently in effect, to serve as a baseline to evaluate future proposals.

ICANN is currently in the process of finalizing the implementation details for the launch of new gTLDs. ICANN has posted three draft applicant guidebooks and a series of topic papers for public comment describing the manner in which ICANN proposes to implement this program. These documents include proposals on the topic of vertical integration- and whether cross-ownership restrictions or other rules related to vertical integration should be adopted to apply to the New gTLD Program.

At Nairobi, the ICANN Board adopted a resolution recognizing the importance of establishing a baseline approach to registry-registrar separation for the new gTLD process to move ahead. Within the context of the new gTLD process, the ICANN Board resolved that there will be strict separation of entities offering registry services and those acting as registrars. No co-ownership will be allowed. The ICANN Board further resolved that if a policy becomes available from the GNSO, and approved by the Board prior to the launch of the new gTLD program, that policy will be considered by the Board for adoption as part of the New gTLD Program.

This public comment forum is an opportunity to comment on any aspect related to the topic of vertical integration between registries and registrars that you think should be taken into account by the Working Group as part of its deliberations. For example, comments may be submitted on: (i) recommended models for the New gTLD Program, (ii) the economic analysis conducted by economists retained by ICANN, including the CRA Report [PDF, 512 KB] as well as the one recently submitted by Salop and Wright [PDF, 42 KB], (iii) the Board approved model proposed by the Board at the ICANN Meeting in Nairobi on 12 March 2010, or (iv) whether the restrictions currently applicable to existing gTLD registries should be changed, or (v) additional work that should be performed by the Working Group to recommend models for the New gTLD Program..

Additional Information:

To review the Issues Report on Vertical Integration Between Registries and Registrars, please refer to http://gnso.icann.org/issues/vertical-integration/report-04dec09-en.pdf [PDF, 254 KB].

The ICANN Board resolution on Vertical Integration is posted at http://www.icann.org/en/minutes/resolutions-12mar10-en.htm#5.

To review the charter describing the policy work to be undertaken by the Vertical Integration Working Group, please refer to: http://gnso.icann.org/issues/vertical-integration/vi-chartered-objectives-10mar10-en.pdf [PDF, 41 KB].

To participate in the GNSO working group for this policy development process, please contact Glen de Saint Gery at gnso.secretariat@gnso.icann.org by no later than 31 March 2010.

For information on the details of the implementation planning activities for new gTLDs, please refer to the documents posted at http://icann.org/en/topics/new-gtld-program.htm

For additional resources on the topic of vertical integration between registries and registrars, please refer to the documents posted at: https://st.icann.org/vert-integration-pdp/index.cgi?https_st_icann_org_vert_integration_pdp_index_cgi_vi_resources

Staff responsible: Margie Milam

Deadline and how to submit comments

Comments are welcome via e-mail to pdp-vertical-integration@icann.org until 18 April 2010.

Access to the public comment forum from which comments can be posted can be found at http://www.icann.org/en/public-comment/public-comment-201004-en.htm#vi

An archive of all comments received will be publicly posted at http://forum.icann.org/lists/pdp-vertical-integration/

1 From the VI PDP WG Charter: ‘ "Vertical Integration" (VI) is defined as a business structure in which there is no separation between the Registry Operator and the registrar in relation to a particular gTLD. They are either owned or controlled by the same company or have another contractual affiliation that controls the specific gTLD, and the Registry Operator is not required to provide equivalent access and non-discriminatory access to non-affiliated registrars to sell names under its gTLD.’ Please note that this is a working definition, which is subject to further development and refinement.