ICANN clears registry hurdle for gTLDs

02-07-2013

ICANN has approved a standard registry agreement for all successful new generic top-level domain (gTLD) applicants.

Some of the key features include a Trademark Clearinghouse – a centralised trademark database, rights-protection mechanisms and a single contact for handling complaints about domain name abuse.

The New gTLD Program Committee (NGPC) agreed the contract on Tuesday but published a copy on Wednesday.

“New gTLDs are now on the home stretch,” said Chris Disspain, an NGPC member. “This new registry agreement means we’ve cleared one of the last hurdles for those gTLD applicants who are approved and eagerly nearing that point where their names will go online.”

The deal follows months of negotiations between the NGPC, gTLD applicants and Internet stakeholders, and contains a number of revisions to previous draft agreements.

One of these changes applies to ‘closed generic’ gTLDs – dictionary words not available for public use – which are on hold at the moment. The NGPC said last week that registry agreements for these applications should be delayed until further talks with ICANN’s governmental advisory committee.

“ICANN is currently considering alternative provisions for inclusion in the registry agreement for .brand and closed registries, and is working with members of the community to identify appropriate and alternative provisions. Following this effort, alternative provisions may be included in the registry agreement,” the NGPC resolution says.

Akram Atallah, president of ICANN’s generic domains division, said the latest agreement marks a “dramatic improvement over the previous baseline agreement”.

Jan Corstens, project manager of the Trademark Clearinghouse, said the agreement’s approval was welcome news for applicants, who have seen “numerous delays” since the programme was launched.

“From the view of brands and IP owners, the agreement cements the comprehensive mechanisms that have been put in place to prevent and counter trademark abuse and infringement – of which the Trademark Clearinghouse is central.

“While IP owners can be reassured that the Trademark Clearinghouse offers numerous benefits and a high level of protection, they should not wait until the new gTLDs go live to submit their records. Opting to wait may leave trademarks unprotected, as it can take up to 30 days for submissions to be processed. This could mean they leave themselves open to a window of vulnerability if marks are not registered in advance,” he added.

More than 900 applications have passed initial evaluation to date, while the first new domains are expected to start going live in about September this year. 

This article was first published on 03 July 2013 in World IP Review

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