On 13th June 2012, also known as "Reveal Day", the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) released a list of the 1,930 applications which it received for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). Reveal Day marked the start of the next phase of ICANN's initiative to promote competition and choice through increased availability of domain names.
ICANN has now moved into the evaluation phase of its new gTLD initiative. Third parties can review the gTLD applications and respond to any objectionable applications in one of two ways.
First, third parties had a 60-day period (until 12th August 2012) to review and comment on published materials. Anyone could submit comments, and ICANN evaluators reviewing the new gTLD applications may consider these comments in their reviews. ICANN expects to complete the initial evaluation of all of the submitted applications by the end of 2012, at which point it will post whether an application has passed evaluation.
Independent of the 60-day comment period, there is a seven-month window (until 13th January 2013) for third parties to file a formal objection to any of the published applications. Those seeking to file an objection may raise four different grounds for objection:
- String confusion objection – the applied-for gTLD is confusingly similar to an existing TLD or another applied-for gTLD.
- Legal rights objection – the applied-for gTLD infringes the legal rights of the objector.
- Limited public interest objection – the applied-for gTLD is contrary to generally accepted legal norms of morality and public order that are recognised under principles of international law.
- Community objection – a significant portion of the applied-for gTLD's target audience substantially opposes the gTLD application.
ICANN's new gTLD programme stands to change the online landscape dramatically. Because of its expansive breadth and scope, this new initiative affects not only the applicants themselves, but also internet communities, individual users, businesses, governments and trademark owners.
Michelle Mancino Marsh and Michael Kelly
This article first appeared in IAM magazine. For further information please visit www.iam-magazine.com.