Now that ICANN's new gTLD program is moving full steam ahead, ICANN has launched a new informational website as part of its global awareness campaign to promote the potential benefits of new gTLDs (the potential harm caused by the gTLDs is left to us commentators). The new website is intended to serve as a one-stop shop for potential and eventual gTLD applicants and other interested parties, and provides a bevy of information related to the new gTLD program, including:
- Information on the new gTLD application process and the TLD Application System (TAS)
- Access to current and historical data regarding new gTLD program and policymaking Information on ICANN's Applicant Support Program, which is intended to provide pro bono services and financial assistance to startup registries in developing countries
- News and media regarding the new gTLD program
The site is clearly still in development, and it contains a dormant Program Status area that will presumably be activated as the first round of applications gets underway on January 12, 2012, and which includes access to application comments, application results, new gTLD program feedback, and miscellaneous program statistics. While the new website currently provides a decent overview of the new gTLD program and process, the real meat of the program can be found in the most recent version of the gTLD Applicant Guidebook, which was released on Monday, and which outlines in detail the application process and requirements for owning and operating a new gTLD registry. There are few changes from the previous version (a list of those changes is located here). Notably, the new version institutes a TAS registration deadline of March 29, 2012, two weeks before the close of the first round application window. This means that applicants late to the party who want to be considered in the first round of new gTLD applications will need to at least register with TAS by this earlier date. Trademark owners will note, of course, that details regarding implementation of various trademark rights protection mechanisms, such as the Trademark Clearinghouse, remain forthcoming. As we have discussed previously, potential gTLD applicants should become intimately familiar with the gTLD Applicant Guidebook as they consider whether to sign on to operate a first-round new gTLD registry.