ICANN Announces New TLD Program Start

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By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch

On the eve of the start of the application period for new generic top level domains (gTLDs) on the internet, the chair of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Steve Crocker, described the program as a “major step in the globalisation of the internet.” For the first time there will be equal access and an equal invitation to users from all over the world to have generic domain names, Crocker said at the National Press Club in Washington, DC today.

That’s because so far gTLDs like .com, .org. .info, .gov are only in Latin-based characters.

Answering reporters’ questions about outstanding concerns from trademark owners, ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom pointed to a list of provisions in the 300-page applicant guidebook (of which an updated version will be published tomorrow) especially crafted to address the concerns. He said at least nine protection measures deal directly with intellectual property rights questions. Further protections could be tabled via ICANN’s bottom-up community process, Beckstrom said.

The US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) asked in a recent letter to consider such protections and a potential phase-in period after applications are received. Crocker promised flexibility with regard to the timeframe in which governments can file their “advice”, as there is no sense in “overwhelming” governments. Companies and organisations then file their applications until 12 April (though the end of the necessary registration for the TLD application system (TAS) is 29 March).

Expected numbers for new TLDs vary from several hundred to several thousand, according to observers. The application fee is US$185,000 with a potential reduction for needy applicants from the developing world.

It is unclear when ICANN will open another application window.

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