The 65th international meeting of the ICANN took place in Marrakech, from the 24th to the 27th of June 2019. Several topics have been discussed such as the new gTLDs issues, the compliance between ICANN procedures and the GDPR provisions and the review of the rights protection mechanisms.
- Future new gTLDs issues
Recently, ICANN faced an increase in the number of applications for top-level domains (gTLDs). In 2012, almost 2000 applications for new gTLDs were submitted to ICANN. At the end of this first round, more than 1000 gTLDs were created, for instance the <.brands>. ICANN awaits similar applications for the next round, which should take place in 2022.
Thus, new strategies have to be implemented to handle with those requests. At first ICANN foresees establishing priorities, based on the new gTLDs applications, to make the process more efficient. This process could be opened every year for a period of 4 months. However, ICANN could seek to limit the number of applications to 1000 per year.
Furthermore, TLDs with 2 characters will be permitted under the new process if these are composed by one letter and one number. Nevertheless, singular and plural versions of the same extensions are likely to be banned as coexisting gTLDs in the future.
On the other hand, ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), specifically mentioned the <.amazon> issue in its report dated on 27 June 2019.
The ICANN Board had authorized the use of this gTLDs whereas several GAC members had expressed their concerns about the risk of the Amazon case becoming a precedent and expressed concern that a mutually acceptable solution had not been achieved. The GAC has requested ICANN Board to formulate its grounds for its approval. In addition, several South American governments object to its use.
- GDPR and EPDP
The Expedited Policy Development Process Working Group (EPDP) implemented a compliance policy in regard to the GDPR, on March 2019. In our article about ICANN 63, we explained that when the GDPR came into force, it would produce several effects on the Whois protocol. For instance, personal data will no longer be accessible to the public. The EPDP has now to develop a unified access system centralizing protected data, based on the legitimate interests of IP owners.
Furthermore, some details about the Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP) were given in the ICANN 65. This protocol has been created to eventually replace the Whois protocol. In fact, it performs the same functions as Whois, but its aim is to standardize data access. It shall be implemented by Registries and Registrars by the 26th of August 2019.
- Review of protection mechanisms provided by ICANN
The Rights Protection Mechanism (RPM) Working group is reviewing several ICANN procedures concerning gTLDs. It has developed preliminary recommendations about Sunrise and Claims periods. In the same way, some proposals have been developed to allow trademark owners to acquire a priority right to register their trademark as a domain name. In the absence of such a registration, third parties could register terms corresponding to the trademark.
Up to now, the first phase of the working group scheme consists in reviewing Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) and the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) mechanisms. Similarly, the UDRP procedure remains on the horizon, and the Group is expected to begin work on that in mid-2020. This will be the second phase of its work.
Meantime, as their work is not yet completed, we will have more information once their report is completed, which is expected to be in April 2020.
On the other hand, another working group was also formed to study Subsequent Procedures (SubPro) for new gTLDs. This working group confirmed its support of a User Guide, under the assumption that it becomes more precise, to make it easier to understand what gTLDs are.
Similarly, the SubPro working group expects to better communicate with trademark owners in order to limit the risk of counterfeiting, and to show how those new gTLDs could have a good effect on their activity.
Thus, ICANN 65 provided an opportunity to evaluate the work done thus far by the working groups. However, if clarifications have been made, few concrete changes have been put in place. The projects should take shape at the next meetings organized by ICANN.
The next ICANN meeting will take place in November 2019, in Montreal. We will continue to follow this matter closely.