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03rd July 2012

ICANN releases list of applications for new generic top-level domains

ICANN's new gTLD application window recently closed on 30 May 2012. Hundreds of new gTLD strings have been applied for, ranging from protective brand gTLDs (such as .canon .youtube .sony) to generic categories of products and services (.sport .baby .cars etc).

Comments and objections

Clearly an application does not guarantee success, particularly as many of the applications are currently conflicting (there are13 applications for .app, 4 applications for .golf).

ICANN has posted a full list of gTLDs which have been applied for in this round of applications, which can be seen here:

http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/program-status/application-results/strings-1200utc-13jun12-en

Interested parties have been invited, over the course of 60 days starting from 13 June 2012, to submit comments on the applications to the ICANN evaluation panels.

Interested parties can also now submit objections to the applications. The deadline for submitting an objection is 7 months starting from 13 June 2012. There are several possible grounds for objection, namely:

1.  the gTLD is confusingly similar to another TLD (whether existing or one applied-for)

2. the gTLD violates the legal rights of the objector

3. the gTLD is contrary to public order/morality

4. there is substantial opposition to the application from the community targeted by the gTLD

Depending on which ground for objection is raised, the dispute will be resolved through the ICDR, WIPO or ICC. Each of these has varying fees and procedures. By way of an illustration, the WIPO base panel fee for a single objection to a single application dispute on the ground of violation of the objector's legal rights is 8,000 USD.

What happens next?

Even if an application survives the objection stage, its success is not guaranteed. Applicants must also demonstrate that they have the necessary technical, operational and financial capabilities to run a gTLD registry (which is effectively what they are applying to do). ICANN will begin applicant reviews in July 2012.

It should be noted that even a successful application does not necessarily mean that that gTLD will not be available to the public. Clearly in the case of protective brand registrations the intention of the applicant is to carve out a section of the internet for its own exclusive use. However applicants for generic gTLDs such as .art and .law are no doubt seeking to make profit from their initial investment by selling domain names ending in the gTLD. If successful, they will therefore become an open registry which is willing to sell domains to more or less anyone who can afford the renewal fees, much in the same way as Nominet currently is in respect of .uk domains.

For more information please contact markelmslie@hewitsons.com

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