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Preliminary Report | Regular Meeting of the New gTLD Program Committee

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.

Formal Minutes are still to be approved by the New gTLD Program Committee. This has not been approved by the New gTLD Program Committee and does not constitute minutes but does provide a preliminary attempt setting forth the unapproved reporting of the resolutions from that meeting. Details on voting and abstentions will be provided in the Minutes, when approved at a future meeting.

NOTE ON ADDITIONAL INFORMATION INCLUDED WITHIN PRELIMINARY REPORT – ON RATIONALES -- Where available, a draft Rationale for each of theNew gTLD Program Committee's actions is presented under the associated Resolution. A draft Rationale is not final until approved with the minutes of theNew gTLD Program Committee meeting.

A Regular Meeting of the New gTLD Program Committee of the ICANN Board of Directors was held in Singapore on 26 March 2014 at 13:30 local time. The Committee waived notice of the change in meeting time and consented to holding the meeting.

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, ICANN), Steve Crocker (Board Chairman), Chris Disspain,Bill Graham, Bruno Lanvin, Olga Madruga-Forti, Erika Mann, Gonzalo Navarro, Ray Plzak, George Sadowsky, Mike Silber, and Kuo-Wei Wu.

Jonne Soininen (IETF Liaison) was in attendance as a non-voting liaison to the Committee.

Heather Dryden was not present.

Secretary: John Jeffrey (General Counsel and Secretary).

ICANN Executives and Staff in attendance for all or part of the meeting: Akram Atallah (President, Global Domains Division); Megan Bishop (Board Support Coordinator); Michelle Bright (Board Support Manager); Allen Grogan (Chief Contracting Counsel); Jamie Hedlund (Advisor to the President/CEO); David Olive (Vice President, Policy Development); Cyrus Namazi (Vice President, DNS Industry Engagement); Erika Randall (Counsel); and Amy Stathos (Deputy General Counsel).

This is a Preliminary Report of the Meeting of the New gTLD Program Committee, which took place on 26 March 2014.

  1. Main Agenda
    1. Update on Registry Agreement Specification 13 for Brand Category of Applicants
    2. AOB

 

  1. Main Agenda:

    1. Update on Registry Agreement Specification 13 for Brand Category of Applicants

      The Committee continued its previous discussion concerning Specification 13 to the New gTLD Registry Agreement, which if approved by the Committee, would provide certain limited accommodations to registry operators of TLDs that qualify as ".Brand TLDs." The Chair summarized the Committee's previous consideration of the issue, and reminded the Committee that a particular clause was removed from the version of Specification 13 presented for approval by the Committee in response to a joint comment submitted by eleven registrars during the public comment period.

      The Chair reported that the group of registrars that submitted the joint comment during the public comment period notified the Chair on 25 March that it no longer objected to the inclusion of a provision allowing a registry operator of a .BRAND TLD to be limited to using no more than two registrars at one time. The Chair noted, however, that there was a remaining concern about whether including the additional clause could be in inconsistent with GNSO Policy Recommendation 19 on the Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains.

      The Committee discussed whether to reinstate the additional clause noted above, and discussed the importance of consulting with the GNSO Council given the policy implications of the clause. The Committee considered ways in which it could move forward with approving a version of Specification 13 to allow .BRAND TLDs to progress to the contracting phase of the New gTLD Program while the Committee consulted with the GNSO Council about the additional clause. Members of the Committee asked about the contracting implications of this approach, and whether the proposed approach had been appropriately socialized with the community.

      The Committee then took the following action:

      Whereas, on 2 July 2013, the ICANN Board New gTLD Program Committee (NGPC) approved the form of the New gTLD Registry Agreement to be entered into by ICANN and successful New gTLD applicants.

      Whereas, the Brand Registry Group engaged with ICANN regarding modifications to the New gTLD Registry Agreement to address concerns of their constituents.

      Whereas, on 6 December 2013, ICANN posted for public comment a proposed Specification 13 to the New gTLD Registry Agreement [PDF, 80 KB] ("Specification 13"), which if adopted would provide limited accommodations to registry operators of TLDs that qualify as ".Brand TLDs."

      Whereas, the proposed Specification 13 was revised in response to the public comments, including the removal of a provision allowing a registry operator of a .BRAND TLD to designate one or more ICANN accredited registrars as the exclusive registrar(s) for the TLD in response to a comment submitted by a group of eleven registrars. An update to the community and a revised draft was posted on the ICANN Blog on 14 March 2014.

      Whereas, on 25 March 2014 the NGPC received notification from the group of registrars that submitted the joint comment referenced above during the public comment period that it no longer objected to the inclusion of a provision allowing a registry operator of a .BRAND TLD to be limited to using no more than two registrars at one time.

      Whereas, the NGPC takes specific note of Policy Recommendation 19 in the GNSO's Final Report on the Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains (8 August 2007), which provides that "registries must use only ICANN accredited registrars in registering domain names and may not discriminate among such accredited registrars."

      Whereas, the NGPC has considered all of the comments received from the community, and has determined that the revised Specification 13 provides appropriate and limited accommodations to registry operators of TLDs that qualify as .Brand TLDs.

      Whereas, the NGPC is undertaking this action pursuant to the authority granted to it by the Board on 10 April 2012, to exercise the ICANN Board's authority for any and all issues that may arise relating to the New gTLD Program.

      Resolved (2014.03.26.NG01), the NGPC approves Specification 13 to the New gTLD Registry Agreement attached to this Resolution as Annex 1 [PDF, 106 KB] (which does not include the clause allowing a .Brand registry operator to designate a limited number preferred registrars for the TLD), and authorizes the President and CEO, or his designee, to take all necessary steps to implement Specification 13 to the New gTLD Registry Agreement consistent with this resolution.

      Resolved (2014.03.26.NG02), the NGPC approves the incorporation of the additional clause identified below into Specification 13. Implementation will not take effect until 45 days from the publication of this resolution to: (i) provide the GNSO Council an opportunity to advise ICANN as to whether the GNSO Council believes that this additional provision is inconsistent with the letter and intent of GNSO Policy Recommendation 19 on the Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains; or (ii) advise ICANN that the GNSO Council needs additional time for review, including an explanation as to why additional time is required.

      "The second sentence of Section 2.9(a) of the Agreement is superseded by the following:

      Subject to the requirements of Specification 11, Registry Operator must either (i) provide non-discriminatory access to Registry Services to all ICANN accredited registrars that enter into and are in compliance with the registry-registrar agreement for the TLD; provided that Registry Operator may establish non-discriminatory criteria for qualification to register names in the TLD that are reasonably related to the proper functioning of the TLD, or (ii) designate no more than three ICANN accredited registrars at any point in time to serve as the exclusive registrar(s) for the TLD."

      A .BRAND TLD registry operator may amend its Specification 13 to incorporate this provision upon request as part of implementation. The President and CEO, or his designee, is authorized to take all necessary steps to implement this provision in Specification 13 to the New gTLD Registry Agreement consistent with this resolution.

      All members of the Committee present voted in favor of Resolutions 2014.03.26.NG01 – 2014.03.26.NG02. The Resolutions carried.

      Rationale for Resolutions 2014.03.26.NG01 – 2014.03.26.NG02

      On 2 July 2013, the ICANN Board New gTLD Program Committee (NGPC) approved the form of the New gTLD Registry Agreement to be entered into by ICANN and successful New gTLD applicants. The NGPC's action today is to approve a proposal to incorporate a new Specification 13 for the New gTLD Registry Agreement. The Brand Registry Group first engaged with ICANN regarding modifications to the New gTLD Registry Agreement to address concerns of their constituents at ICANN's Beijing Conference in April 2013. Specification 13 would provide limited accommodations to registry operators of TLDs that qualify as ".Brand TLDs." As many as one-third of all new gTLD applications might qualify as .Brand TLDs.

      Specification 13 to the New gTLD Registry Agreement reflects months of negotiations on many key issues raised by the community during the public comment forum and other community outreach sessions. The accommodations in the final version of Specification 13 approved today are as follows:

      • Exemption from the Specification 9 of the Registry Agreement. Specification 9, also referred to as the Code of Conduct, is designed to protect the TLD's registrants, but in the case of a .Brand there is no need to protect the .Brand operator's affiliates and trademark licensees from the .Brand operator.
      • Deferral of Sunrise requirements. A .Brand TLD's requirement to conduct a Sunrise registration period would be deferred for as long as the TLD continues to qualify as a .Brand TLD. If the TLD ever ceases to operate as a .Brand TLD, then the TLD would have to comply with the Sunrise requirements and hold a Sunrise period within 60 days.
      • A 2-year "cooling-off" period prior to re-delegation of the .Brand TLD to a successor registry operator, in most cases. The provision does not prevent ICANN's appointment of an EBERO.
      • Registry Operator must conduct an annual self-audit and certify that the TLD continues to qualify as a .Brand TLD.
      • Revised definitions of ".Brand TLD" and "Trademark Licensee" to address concerns and adopt several suggestions of the commentators.
      • Removal of the ability of the .Brand registry operator to designate exclusive registrars for the TLD.

      A redline of the version of Specification 13 approved today, as compared to the previous version posted for public comment on 6 December 2013 is available here: <http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/applicants/agb/base-agreement-spec-13-proposed-06dec13-en.pdf> [PDF, 80 KB].

      Additionally, the NGPC is approving the incorporation of an additional clause into Specification 13, with implementation not being effective until 45 days from the publication of this resolution to: (i) provide the GNSO Council an opportunity to advise ICANN as to whether the GNSO Council believes that this additional provision is inconsistent with the letter and intent of GNSO Policy Recommendation 19 on the Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains; or (ii) advise ICANN that the GNSO Council needs additional time for review, along with an explanation as to why additional time is required. This additional clause will allow a registry operator of a .BRAND TLD to designate no more than three ICANN accredited registrars at any point in time to serve as the exclusive registrar(s) for the TLD. A version of this provision was included in the draft of Specification 13 that was posted for public comment. During the public comment period, a group of eleven registrars submitted a joint comment expressing concern about allowing a registry operator of a .BRAND TLD to designate one or more ICANN accredited registrars as the exclusive registrar(s) for the TLD. Subsequently, on 25 March 2014 the NGPC received notification from the group of registrars that submitted the joint comment during the public comment period that it no longer objected to the inclusion such a provision with a request that a registry operator of a .BRAND TLD be limited to using no more than two registrars at one time. The provision being approved today by the NGPC (subject to the GNSO Council review) would allow for no more than three registrars at one time.

      The NGPC takes note of Policy Recommendation 19 in the GNSO's Final Report on the Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains (8 August 2007), which provides that "registries must use only ICANN accredited registrars in registering domain names and may not discriminate among such accredited registrars." The NGPC is affording the GNSO Council time to advise ICANN as to whether it is inconsistent with the letter and intent of the GNSO Policy Recommendation 19 on the Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains. As contemplated in the ICANN Bylaws and provided for in Section 14 of the GNSO PDP Manuel:

      ICANN Staff should inform the GNSO of its proposed implementation of a new GNSO recommended policy. If the proposed implementation is considered inconsistent with the GNSO Council's recommendations, the GNSO Council may notify the Board and request that the Board review the proposed implementation. Until the Board has considered the GNSO Council request, ICANN Staff should refrain from implementing the policy, although it may continue developing the details of the proposed implementation while the Board considers the GNSO Council request.

      The NGPC requests that the GNSO Council advise the ICANN Board within 45 days from the publication of this resolution whether the provision is not inconsistent with the letter and intent of GNSO Policy Recommendation 19 on the Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains, or advise the Board that the GNSO Council needs additional time for review, and provide the reasons why additional time is required.

      In taking its action today, the NGPC took into consideration the public comments the community submitted during the public comment forum on Specification 13 <http://www.icann.org/en/news/public-comment/report-comments-spec13-14mar14-en.pdf> [PDF, 551 KB].

      The adoption of the Resolution will permit successful New gTLD applicants determined to be .BRAND TLDs to move forward to the contracting phase of the New gTLD Program. This progress will mark another milestone in the New gTLD Program.

      There is no anticipated fiscal impact of taking the action to approve Specification 13 beyond what is currently included in the budget. Incorporating Specification 13 into the New gTLD Registry Agreement will permit several .BRAND TLD applicants to enter into the New gTLD Registry Agreement. The fee provisions in the New gTLD Registry Agreement will provide substantial additional resources for ICANN's compliance and registry engagement services in furtherance of ICANN's ongoing coordination, security and stability role. The registry fees become due upon delegation, which will help fund expected expenditures to support the roll out of the additional new gTLDs.

      Approval of this resolution will not impact security, stability or resiliency issues relating to the DNS. The NGPC previously considered issues of security, stability and resiliency of the DNS issue when adopting the New gTLD Program.

      The NGPC's action to approve Specification 13 was the subject of a pubic comment forum initiated on 6 December 2013. The public comment forum considered whether to incorporate a new Specification 13 to the new gTLD Registry Agreement. In particular, comments were requested on the following concerns:

      • whether it is appropriate to classify certain TLDs as ".Brand TLDs";
      • whether the definition of ".Brand TLD" is sufficiently narrow to capture only what is commonly recognized as a corporate brand;
      • whether there may be unintended consequences associated with the implementation of draft Specification 13;
      • whether it is appropriate to permit a Registry Operator for a .Brand TLD to limit its registrar use to one or more preferred ICANN accredited registrar(s); and
      • whether a two year "cooling off" period prior to re-delegation of the .Brand TLD upon expiration or termination of the Registry Agreement is appropriate (subject to the limitations provided in the draft Specification).

      The public comment forum closed on 31 January 2014, and the proposed Specification 13 was revised to accommodate comments from the community. The action being taken today considered all of the public comments submitted.

    2. AOB

      Staff was asked to provide an update to the Committee at a subsequent meeting concerning contractual enforcement of commitments made by applicants who originally indicted their intent to operate the applied-for TLD as an exclusive access registry, but who no longer intend to do so.

      The Chair called the meeting to a close.

Published on 4 April 2014

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""icann.org"" is not an IDN."