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ICANN Reaffirms Commitment to Second Round in New gTLD Program, Seeks Public Comment on Trademark Protections, and Moves Forward on Applicant Support Program

On 7 February 2012, the ICANN Board reaffirmed ICANN's commitment to opening a second round of applications in the New gTLD Program as expeditiously as possible.

ICANN will publish a document describing the work plan required prior to initiating a second application window for the New gTLD Program.

It is not possible yet to state a specific date for the second round because of the work ICANN has committed to related to the first round. First, the applications from the first round must be processed, and the amount of applications to be received will not be known until the first-round application window ends. In addition, ICANN previously committed to addressing the recommendations of the Governmental Advisory Committee requirements for assessment of trademark protections and root zone operation as a result of the first round.

In furtherance of the resolution, after the publication of the description of the work plan, ICANN will continue working with the community to refine that work plan.

The full text of the resolution is available on ICANN's website at:

In addition, ICANN is seeking public comment on certain trademark protections in the New gTLD Program. Some stakeholders recently indicated that there are concerns about the perceived need for "defensive" applications at the top level, and encouraged ICANN to ensure that the program was launched in a manner that protects intellectual property rights. The public comment will help ICANN clarify the scope and benefits of the available protections as well as understand and respond to specific concerns with them.

Finally, ICANN continues to push forward with its program to provide financial and other forms of assistance to qualifying applicants. Having designed an Applicant Support Program and an Applicant Assistance Handbook, ICANN is now seeking independent panel members to help make financial award decisions. Global diversity and broad sets of experiences will be required and ICANN encourages those interested to seek additional information.

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Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."