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is developing a framework to launch new gTLDs, and we can expect that the next
twenty-four months will be a time of great change for the Internet and for
brands as a result. The new gTLDs represent challenge, cost, risk and possible
reward. Are you ready for the new gTLDs? In this Analysis, Paul D. McGrady
discusses ICANN and gTLDs and offers his thoughts on dealing with the new gTLDs.
domain name system itself is a series of contracts, first between ICANN and
registries (for example, the .com registry is VeriSign). The registries then
contract with registrars such as GoDaddy, eNom and Network Solutions.
Interestingly, the registrars have a direct contract with ICANN as well.
Lastly, registrants of domain names enter into contracts with registrars, most
often the "click through" variety found on the registrar's webpage.
Even the informal dispute mechanism for domain names, known as the "UDRP"
is itself contractual: it is "binding consensus policy," and
therefore is a part of the registry and registrar agreements with ICANN. The
UDRP is also a mandatory provision in every registrar's contract with every
registrant. ICANN's various policies are developed through a "bottom up
consensus" process, which means none of the stakeholders is ever happy
for a New gTLD
application period for the free-for-all opens on January 12, 2012 and closes
April 12, 2012. While ICANN expects to have multiple rounds, there is no date
certain when that next round will open. Unlike the protections it has taken to
ensure that no one applies for a gTLD consisting of ICANN's own mark, ICANN
will not be taking any steps to protect your marks against a third party who
may apply for a confusingly similar term. You will have to review the
applications and either oppose-using an untested ICANN dispute process-or sue
in the federal courts.
Watch for additional
Emerging Issues Analyses in the coming weeks dealing in depth with important
new gTLD topics, such as how to properly restrict a .brand registry, impact of
ICANN consensus policy on new gTLD registries, and pre-application activities
that every potential applicant should be considering.
Access the full version of Paul D. McGrady, Jr., on the
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