Minutes | New gTLD Program Committee | 26 March 2013

Note: On 10 April 2012, the Board established the New gTLD Program Committee, comprised of all voting members of the Board that are not conflicted with respect to the New gTLD Program. The Committee was granted all of the powers of the Board (subject to the limitations set forth by law, the Articles of incorporation, Bylaws or ICANN's Conflicts of Interest Policy) to exercise Board-level authority for any and all issues that may arise relating to the New gTLD Program. The full scope of the Committee's authority is set forth in its charter at http://www.icann.org/en/groups/board/new-gTLD.

A Special Meeting of the New gTLD Program Committee of the ICANN Board of Directors was held telephonically on 26 March 2013 at 13:00 UTC.

Committee Chairman Cherine Chalaby promptly called the meeting to order.

In addition to the Chair the following Directors participated in all or part of the meeting: Fadi Chehadé (President and CEO), Chris Disspain, Bill Graham, Olga Madruga-Forti, Erika Mann, George Sadowsky, Mike Silber, Judith Vazquez, and Kuo-Wei Wu.  Gonzalo Navarro and Ray Plzak sent apologies.

Thomas Narten, IETF Liaison and Francisco da Silva, TLG Liaison, were in attendance as non-voting liaisons to the committee.

Heather Dryden, GAC Liaison, was in attendance as an invited observer.

ICANN Staff in attendance for all or part of the meeting: Akram Atallah, Chief Operating Officer; John Jeffrey, General Counsel and Secretary; Megan Bishop, Michelle Bright, Samantha Eisner, Dan Halloran, Karen Lentz, Amy Stathos, and Christine Willett.

  1. Approval to Enter Agreement with IBM for Trademark Clearinghouse
    1. Rationale for Resolution 2013.03.26.NG01
  2. Protections for Names of IGOs
  3. "Closed" Generics
  4. Update on Registrar Accreditation Agreement Negotiations and the Registry Agreement
  5. Any Other Business


The Chair introduced the meeting agenda.

  1. Approval to Enter Agreement with IBM for Trademark Clearinghouse

    Due to a potential for conflict of interest, Thomas Narten was not present for the deliberation of this item.

    The Chair noted that three of the four members of the Board's Finance Committee, which are also on the New gTLD Program Committee, are in support the entering of the agreement from a financial standpoint. The Chair also noted that this was necessary to come to the New gTLD Program Committee because of ICANN's disbursement and signing authority policy, as the amount of the contract requires Board approval.

    Akram Atallah provided the Committee with an update on the development of the Trademark Clearinghouse as it has been divided into two functions, one to be performed by Deloitte and the other by IBM, which will perform the sunrise and claims work, and confirmed that after an initial exclusivity period, ICANN will have the right to bring in additional vendors. Akram provided detailed information regarding the negotiations and the costs for the work, as well as commitments regarding service level agreements and redundancies.

    Erika Mann inquired as whether ICANN reached out to providers other than IBM.

    Akram confirmed that a couple of years ago, there was a request for proposals, and responses were received from multiple parties.

    Judith Vazquez inquired about what will happen after the conclusion of the five-year term fo the greement.

    Akram confirmed that ICANN has the rights to the TMCH data, so the TMCH can continue operating even if it is determined that another company could be brought in. Of course, ICANN could also renew the contract with IBM. This is all speculation, but we have appropriate flexibility at the end of the contracting term.

    Judith then inquired about the security fo the database and what will happen in the event of a DDOS attack.

    Akram noted that the redundancy of servers across geographic location will provide capacity to mitigate against this possibility, though there could be the possibility that the database could be down for a period of time.

    Olga Madruga-Forti asked for additional information about the rights in the data and the ability to switch providers, if necessary.

    Akram confimed that the trademark holders retain the rights in their marks, and ICANN retains the rights in the database.

    Chris Disspain then moved and Judith Vazquez seconded the following resolution:

    Whereas, ICANN and IBM have negotiated in good faith the terms for a proposed statement of work for operation of the Sunrise and Trademark Claims services offered by the Trademark Clearinghouse.

    Whereas, the New gTLD Program Committee has reviewed the terms of the proposed Statement of Work for ICANN.

    Whereas, approval is required to commit ICANN funds in the amount of USD 4 million.

    Whereas, execution of the agreement enables continuation of the technical build out to support these services for the New gTLD Program.

    Resolved (2013.03.26.NG01), the New gTLD Program Committee authorizes the President and CEO to enter into the proposed agreement with IBM.

    Ten members of the Committee voted in favor of the Resolution. Two members of the Committee were unavailable to vote. The resolution carried.

    Rationale for Resolution 2013.03.26.NG01

    The Trademark Clearinghouse is an essential part of the rights protection mechanisms within the New gTLD Program. Successful operation of the Sunrise and Trademark Claims services is an important component of the services offered by the Clearinghouse in order to assist in protecting the rights of third parties. Authorizing the President and CEO to enter into the agreement reinforces ICANN's accountability in meeting the commitments it has made regarding the ongoing operation, availability and continuity of the Clearinghouse.

    Entering into this agreement will have a fiscal impact on ICANN in the amount of USD 4 million at a maximum. This has been anticipated and is consistent with the budget for the New gTLD Program. The approval of this agreement is not expected to have any impact on the security, stability or resiliency of the DNS.

  2. Protections for Names of IGOs

    Chris Disspain introduced the topic to the Committee, noting that ICANN has received advice from the GAC including a list of names and acronyms. Chris noted that there is a specific concern in reference to the acronyms, as they are acronyms used not just by IGOs but by other organizations as well. In order to have a more robust conversation on this issue, Chris proposes that a more fulsome paper be developed that can be used as the basis for conversation among the Committee while at the Beijing meeting. This would also guide the Committee's conversation with the GAC on this topic. Chris confirmed that part of the discussion with the GAC would be a request to work with the Board to find a solution, while providing some protections while that discussion is ongoing.

    Tarek Kamel noted his appreciation of the work in the GAC to develop the list, and noted that the issue of language for the protections is still be worked on. That's another area where the Board could benefit from clarification from the GAC.

    The Chair asked Chris for clarification on when the Committee would have to take action on the temporary protections.

    Chris noted what is more important at this point is not to take action that would trigger the Bylaws consultation requirement, as there is still the possibility that the Board and the GAC can work to address the Board's concerns regarding the list.

    Olga Madruga-Forti thanked Chris and Tarek for their work to try to bring this issue to resolution. She also inquired about how to balance the expectations of new organizations or those that were unaware of the development of the list, after the fixed list is determined later this year. In addition, what are the potential balances for acronyms that are widely used.

    Chris noted that one possibility could be protection of acronyms in relevant TLDs, though that has challenges of its own. Much of these considerations are still in the beginning stages.

    Heather Dryden offered that the GAC is aware that there has to be room for discussion about actonyms and languages. However, any list of organizations would be final as to this round. Because of that, there is not a process for additions to the list in this round, though there could be some criteria developed that would facilitate a process and that would be objective in nature. At this time, however, the list would be considered final and closed.

    Chris agreed with Heather that ultimately there will have to be a lot more detail surrounding the list and dealing with future rounds and ongoing mechanisms.

    Erika Mann inquired as to how many requests the GAC received for inclusion on the list.

    Heather confirmed that the GAC was working closely with the IGOs, but does not have a list of all organizations that may have contacted a GAC representative or the IGOs.

    The Chair confirmed that the next step on this was further discussion at the meeting in Beijing, to prepare for final decision in Durban in July.

  3. "Closed" Generics

    Chris Disspain introduced the continuing work on the "closed" generic issue, noting that there will be further briefing to the Committee in the coming week for discussion in Beijing. The paper is expected to focus on those strings for which the applicant has indicated that the string is intended to be closed to regisrtars, and the requirements regarding requesting exemptions to the Code of Conduct. In addition, the paper is expected to refine the terminology for this subject.

    The Chair asked about timing for consideration of this issue.

    Chris noted that the Committee will need sufficient time to discuss this issue in Beijing, and possibly receive feedback on this issue during the public forum.

    The Committee members agreed that further time in Beijing was necessary for this discussion.

    The General Counsel and Secretary reminded the Committee that it is not advisable to rush towards a solution while at Beijing and take action prior to hearing the discussions that will occur in the community during the meeting.

    Chris agreed, and suggested that the Committee identify additional time to discuss this issue after the Beijing meeting as well, to allow for time to consider all of the inputs received during the week.

    Olga Madruga-Forti inquired about how to address strings that might raise this type of public interest concern but successfully pass Initial Evaluation.

    Mike agreed with Olga's concern.

    The General Counsel and Secretary noted that, at this point, if the Board decides to take action on the "closed" generic issue, there's not much difference between doing that prior to the release of the Initial Evaluation results or after. The important thing here is to continue communicating to the community regarding the components of the program that are still under discussion.

    Chris agreed with the General Counsel and Secretary, and confirmed that this is an issue that likely impacts contractual negotiations, as opposed to initial evaluation.

    Heather Dryden stated that the GAC is likely to provide advice to the Board in Beijing regarding sensitive and controversial strings, including "closed" generics.

    The Chair confirmed that the Committee will set aside additional time in Beijing for a discussion on this issue, prior to the public forum.

  4. Update on Registrar Accreditation Agreement Negotiations and the Registry Agreement

    The President and CEO provided the Committee with an update on the work regarding the Registrar Accreditation Agreement negotiations and the status of the Registry Agreement. There is positive momentum on each of the agreements. On the RAA, the registrars have been very engaged. ON the Registry side, the comments, as well as conversations with applicants, have helped clarify where tough areas still remain, which is only three of the 29 areas posted for change.

    The three areas of concern on the Registry Agreement are the Board-approved amendment process, the requirement that they use registrars on the 2013 RAA, and the requirement that they agree to implement the outcome of the next generation directory services expert working group. While all have been discussed, the Board-approved amendment clause is the most important to focus on.

    On the amendment process, the focus has been on how do we bridle this sufficiently so that it does not circumvent the policy development process, nor allow it to be used loosely. A detailed process has been developed to include these types of protections, and the process will be limited to those amendments that are of a substantial and compelling public interest need.

    A revision to the Registry Agreement will be posted prior to Beijing, so that ICANN can proceed towards contracting shortly after the Beijing meeting.

    For the RAA, it was posted for public comment to get the ball rolling towards closure. The remaining issues on the Registrar side are similar to the Registray agreement, including the amendment process. ICANN and the Registrar Negotiating Team are meeting twice a week, with a goal to bridge all gaps in the agreement by the time we get to Beijing.

    Judith Vazquez thanked the President for his leadership on this issue and noted the need communicate properly with the community if the Board does not have the opportunity to consider the agreements at one of the public meetings.

    The President and CEO agreed with the statement that communication is key, and has been throughout this push of work on the contracts. We will keep communicating and keep listening.

    Mike Silber questioned the propriety of having this issue raised before the Committee and not the full Board.

    The General Counsel and President explained that while no action is being sought through this update, it is important for the Committee to understand the tether to the 2013 RAA and the New gTLD Program.

  5. Any Other Business

    The President and CEO updated the Committee on the DNS summit being planned in New York City on 23 April 2013, where the work of taskforces arising out of the CEO Roundtables will be progressed, and, if available and appropriate, a signing ceremony will take place regarding the new Registrant Rights and Responsibilities document within the RAA.

    Mike Silber cautioned that there should be broad access to the event, not a limited invitation list.

    Chris Disspain provided an update to the Committee regarding the Public Interest Commitments (PICs) submitted by applicants, and requested an easily accessible list to facilitate review, and to understand who all has submitted PICs

    The Chair then called the meeting to a close.

Published on 20 May 2013