New TLD backers to propose plan for parallel processes.
There are a lot of uncertainties about new top level domain names, including how many applications will actually be submitted and what they will be for. This affects a number of things — root scaling, trademark concerns, and geo TLD concerns. For example, if it turns out only 50 TLD applications will be received, root scaling might not be an issue.
With that, it looks like the community of likely new TLD applicants is pushing for some sort of “pre-application” process. Although details are forthcoming, this would allow applicants to submit a basic application with a fee. The application may or may not work its way completely through the approval process while other issues — such as trademark protection — are still being worked out.
The first public mention of such a plan surfaced during an ICANN session about new TLDs a few days ago. A couple days later, during the public forum, Minds + Machines’ Jothan Frakes said that he was working to introduce such a plan in the next few weeks:
…The applicants, in a like manner to the IRT, are going to come together to collaborate on solutions on a way forward.
We have some ideas whereby an applicant can pay a fee and begin the review of information, which can be done now while issues — very important issues such as IRT, URS, root scaling, and economic studies
are being undertaken. In this way we can move forward on issues in parallel. And in this way applicants can go back to their constituents, their stakeholders, communities, and investors with positive news while ICANN staff will gain information about the universe of applicants who will be bringing discussions about public
morality, root scaling, rights protection, and other matters out of the theoretical and into the practical realm. We will be presenting our ideas to ICANN staff and board through the normal channels in the
ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate-Thrush said he understands the concerns of new TLD applicants and that ICANN will consider their proposal:
We’re also very concerned. We’re aware that delay favors incumbents. We’re aware that delay is costly and may, in fact, deprive us, if it goes on for much longer, of the very innovation that this project was intended to help stimulate.
On the other hand, delay is caused by the fact that we have to do this very carefully. We have a specific affirmation in the Affirmation of Commitments that we’ll take into account the public
interest and so on.
So this is a balancing exercise for the board. There’s no intention to delay. We just have to make sure we do it properly.
We also are aware of some of the content of the proposal that you’ve been talking about. There’s been some very effective corridor conversations going on this week about how we might move forward with
an application kind of process that would give us a lot of information about likely applicants, likely strings, and things that can go forward.
And, provided that can be done without commitment and all the usual warnings, we’re happy to explore that kind of forward thinking. So thank you for that.
Without knowing all of the details, this is a plan I can cautiously support. It would be nice to see exactly what we’re dealing with here as far as the number and type of applications. That could assuage a lot of fears. In order to do this, the pre-application process must be mandatory. In other words, all companies wishing to apply must submit a pre-application. Otherwise it doesn’t tell us much about how much scale and potential issues we’re dealing with.