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gTLDs

gTLDs—THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

ICANN’s 37th meeting, hosted by Kenya Network Information Centre (KENIC) in Nairobi, took place in March 2010. Andy Churley and Chloë Garrett summarise the key discussions and decisions.

Expression of interest (EOI)

Following on from the last ICANN meeting in Seoul, and aſter input from various stakeholders and community groups, the decision was made to investigate an EOI model and assess how it could improve the launch process of the new gTLDs.

Te key objectives of the EOI model were to: • Ascertain the number of first-round applications • Identify instances of possible string contention • Identify areas of potential objection

• Understand the economic benefits/risks discussion

• Identify unanticipated issues and provide flexibility

• Hasten the launch of the new gTLD programme by answering or raising issues before the decision to launch was made.

Public comment was invited at several stages and, prior to the ICANN meeting in Nairobi, an explanatory memorandum on the EOI proposal was posted, ready for discussion. Te document

www.worldipreview.com

contained the objectives, an outline of the models and the cost considerations, as well as the next steps to be taken and the timeframe should the EOI be approved.

Both panel and public discussions took place at the Nairobi meeting and the following concerns were raised:

• The proposed EOI is not actually an expression of interest but rather a pre-registration process

• Asking people to apply when the rules are still a moving target is unfair and creates uncertainty

• Developing areas may face exclusion from the EOI stage of the process due to the expense (it costs $55,000 to make an EOI and this fee is not variable)

• The size of the EOI fee favours large corporations, therefore reducing the variation of types of application and going against the intentions of the gTLDs

• The EOI phase will not truly represent the number of expected applications as many

will prefer to remain confidential about their intentions, to reduce the period of time available for objections and to await confirmation on outstanding issues such as trademark protection Terefore, the EOI would not provide the accurate data, value or benefits that the objectives originally anticipated.

Over the course of the ICANN meeting, the following questions were discussed in relation to the EOI: Should it be mandatory (to ensure accuracy of data)? Should the EOI be made public? It was also noted that many of the rules will be decided by the fourth draſt of the handbook, so with this in mind will the EOI really allow any issues raised to be addressed and if necessary changed? Again, it was strongly voiced that to do this would add further delays to the timeline of the new gTLDs.

At ICANN’s board of directors meeting, the decision was passed to withdraw the EOI proposal from consideration. It was noted that much of this was as a result of the exceptional input from the community over the issue.

World Intellectual Property Review May/June 2010

49

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