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ICANN Board to Consider “Expressions of Interest” for New TLDs at December Meeting

“Pre-application” topic to be on agenda at December meeting.

The ICANN Board has instructed ICANN staff to prepare a report about accepting pre-applications or “expressions of interest” for new top level domain names. The board requested the staff to

…study the potential impact of a call for formal “expressions of interest,” and provide a plan for Board consideration at ICANN’s next Board meeting, in December 2009. The plan should include possible options and a risk analysis relating to the proposed action.

The idea was first publicly raised at the ICANN meeting in Seoul last month, and the board voted to approve a resolution for the staff to examine it.

The working group released some more information, and I like where this is headed:

1. Applicants will submit a fee with their “expression of interest”. Right now it’s penciled in at $100,000, but the idea is to make it enough that people won’t try to game the system.

2. Only people who make an expression of interest will be able to apply for a new TLD in the first round.

I think this is a good idea to get a handle on pontential applicant demand for new TLDs and to understand any unforseen issues that may come up regarding particular TLDs. But new TLD proponents are probably wary of the Board’s language, given the use of terms such as “study” and “risk analysis”. There will also be a 30 day comment period.

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  1. John Berryhill says

    In related news, the law firm of John Berryhill LLC is offering a reduced price of $1000 to reserve your place in line for when monkeys fly out of my butt and spit golden coins.

    I will accept no further offers once those monkeys start coming! Hurry!

    • Andrew Allemann says

      If they have to have to pay $100k to express their interest, at least we’ll know they’re serious. I suspect they’ll push back on that, saying it’s too much given that the money could be locked up for a couple years while the debate continues.

  2. Philip Corwin says

    This strikes me as a somewhat strange proposal. As first expounded at the Seoul meeting it sounded like the purpose of accepting “expressions of interest” was to roughly gauge the number of potential first round new gTLD applicants. But now it appears that expressing an interest would be a prerequisite to having a first round bid even considered.
    Only those willing to tie up $100,000 per string for an indefinite period and without knowing what the final rules for new gTLDs will be when the application window finally opens would be eligible to climb through that window. From the viewpoint of a potential applicant with considerable capital to risk it may provide a leg up in that it locks up a potentially valuable string against a competing bid (or, looked at another way, lowers the price of finding out if there will be competition for the string by $85,000. But some potential commercial applicants may balk at the notion that they have to pony up $100k without any idea of when the process will really start or the rules they will be subject to, and the potential objection from community applicants in the developing world could be greater.
    Let’s see what kind of reaction this gets.

    • Andrew Allemann says

      Philip – I suspect the $100k is just a placeholder, and that the potential applicants will push for that to be lowered. Frankly, I think it’s important that there be some sort of mechanism to make the expressions of interest accurate with regards to how many TLDs will be applied for. One of those must be that only those who express an interest are able to apply.

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