In January, ICANN organization published a blog to provide clarity related to the community-developed generic top-level domain (gTLD) Registry Agreement assignment approval process, and context related to the proposed assignments of gTLD Registry Agreements by UNR Corp (UNR).
As of 18 March 2022 ICANN org consented to 11 of the 17 proposed assignments requested by UNR. Evaluation of the remaining requests is in process, based in part on when UNR submitted the request and in consideration of the remaining due diligence that must be completed.
For the proposed assignments that ICANN consented to, UNR and the proposed successor operators have addressed ICANN org's concerns, in part through substantial changes to their own transaction documents. ICANN org publishes one of those documents, the Assignment and Assumption Agreement, and can be found for the following gTLDs at gTLD Registry Agreements.
|.HIPHOP||Dot Hip Hop LLC|
|.AUDIO, .CHRISTMAS, .DIET, .FLOWERS, .GAME, .GUITARS, .HOSTING, .LOL, .MOM, and .PICS||XYZ.COM LLC|
ICANN org's due diligence included asking questions to ensure the proposed assignees meet the community-established criteria for a registry operator, to ensure ICANN has a clear understanding of the transactions, including who is and will be in control of the gTLDs, and to assess whether an approval would impact or extend beyond ICANN's remit and responsibilities.
As explained in our previous blog, ICANN org uncovered issues and inconsistencies during its diligence and raised concerns in what had been communicated about the transactions. Among those issues were assertions regarding ownership of the gTLDs and the opportunity to attain rights outside of the Domain Name System (DNS). This raised concerns because ICANN org was being asked to approve transactions that included not only the transfer of gTLD operations set out in the relevant registry agreements, but also included references and/or implications of the transfer of ownership rights in the gTLDs.
To be clear, the registry agreements do not grant any property ownership rights in the gTLD or the letters, words, symbols, or other characters making up the gTLD string. In addition, ICANN's consent to any assignment of the registry agreement does not convey any rights to the letters, words, or symbols making up the TLD string for use outside the Domain Name System.
Technology will always change and evolve, and the Internet will change and evolve, making way for innovation, competition, and choice. ICANN monitors these technological developments (see OCTO Publications, Buyer Beware: Not All Names Are Created Equal) and acknowledges the need for continued diligence on registry agreement assignments as they incorporate these developments (as was the case here) so that we collectively consider how we can ensure a stable, secure, and predictable addressing system.
ICANN org will continue to perform the necessary due diligence on transactions requiring ICANN approval and appreciates the cooperation of those parties that, through this process, have and will continue to support ICANN to fulfill its mission.