ICANN names gTLD launch date


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has targeted April 23, 2013 as the date to launch the first new generic top-level domains (gTLDs).

In a video interview published on Friday, ICANN chief executive Fadi Chehadé said the organisation was on track to “recommend” the date for processing more than 1,900 gTLDs.

But he added: “I want to be very clear – there are some things that we can’t control that may cause this date to slip.”

For example, registries still don’t have any guidance on how to connect to the Trademark Clearinghouse, a central database of trademarks that can send warnings to alleged cybersquatters. Chehadé stressed that any delays would last weeks, not months.

This is the first time that ICANN, which plans to launch 20 new gTLDs per week, has specified when the domains will be ready to go live.

Reaction to the news was both positive and cautious. Jon Nevett, co-founder of Donuts, the largest gTLD applicant, said: “It's gratifying to have ICANN provide some predictability about introducing new gTLDs, and we applaud Fadi for this leadership. After almost eight years of process, we're ready to bring the benefits of new gTLDs to market.”

Andy Churley, group marketing director at NetNames, an online brand protection company, said ICANN still has work to do before it can start processing the new domains.

“Contracts need to be agreed, rights protection mechanisms need to be put in place, the Trademark Clearinghouse needs to be operational – hopefully, with a bucket-load of trademarks lodged in it.  There are plenty of cogs, technical, procedural and commercial, which need to be in place before ICANN can meet its stated ambition of churning out new strings at a rate of 20 per week.”

There is also still uncertainty about the scope of the Clearinghouse. IP and business constituencies lobbied for ICANN to amend the Clearinghouse model. Their suggestions include extending the trademark claims period, which sends warnings to alleged cybersquatters, from 60 to 90 days after individual registries launch. ICANN is analysing the public comments on the suggestions before deciding whether to implement them as updated or new policy.

In addition, some applications are still contested by multiple applicants, and auctions may be required to separate the so-called contention sets.

The first new gTLD on the Internet will be the Chinese-language version of .catholic.

This article was first published on 18 February 2013 in World IP Review

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