Since the beginning of the year, new domain name extensions (new gTLDs) have been hitting the market. More than 1000 new gTLDs will eventually exist alongside the traditional .com and .fr. Yet in 2012, ICANN, through its President and CEO, Fadi Chéhadé, had already committed to open up once more the root of the Internet by offering a new application round for new domain name extensions. While no date has yet been fixed, rumor has it that the opening date of the procedure should be in early 2016.
Since then, Internet stakeholders have been suggesting solutions to overcome the shortcomings and defects of the first wave of new gTLDs. Indeed, over time, a number of criticisms were raised such as high application fees and inadequate rights protection mechanisms.
Amongst the suggestions made by the community, that of application files tailored to the needs of the different types of TLDs is recurrent since the uniformity of the files, which were not suited to all applications, were widely criticized. To streamline the application process, other observers suggest a system of prioritizing files in a random manner, the pre-evaluation of technical service providers for registries and even a dedicated “customer” service. According to IP Constituency, which is part of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), ICANN will have to stick to a defined and predictable process, while simultaneously being able to address unexpected issues.
The first phase of the launch of the new gTLDs could be assimilated to a test, especially for “dot brands” (such as .kpmg or .chanel). The second application round should therefore be even more successful. The community also requests ICANN to set a detailed, realistic and public timetable in the interest of applicants. In case of delay in the procedure, ICANN should commit to take corrective measures. In addition, the community requests that application fees be reduced, and be made to correspond to the actual costs incurred by ICANN.
However, the most important improvements in the eyes of stakeholders relate to the protection of rights. Thus, the Domains Protected Trademark List (DPML), which allows the registration of a trademark to be blocked, could be extended to all new gTLDs to compensate for an inadequate Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH). The procedures for dispute resolution should also be updated so as to be more accessible to trademark owners. The URS (Uniform Rapid Suspension) procedure could thus be revamped to allow for lower standards, since currently, domain squatting can only be halted in cases of flagrant trademark infringements.
Several other issues are also being debated, such as the lists of premium names containing trademarks, objection mechanisms to applications, the protection of geographical indications or the auction system contemplated by ICANN.
All these issues should be clarified before the launch of the second application round for the new extensions. While time is of the essence, all actors, starting with the applicants, intends to defend their interests. The next ICANN meeting scheduled for October in Los Angeles should shed light on many concerns raised by the community.
Owing to its cutting edge expertise on new gTLDs, Dreyfus can assist you in preparing for the second round of applications. Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.