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Icann addresses new gTLD questions

Icann will publish details on Tuesday of the new gTLD schedule, including the digital archery program and the reveal date for applications

The organisation answered 15 questions online via twitter this week, after reopening the new TLD application system (TAS) on May 22.

The system will remain open, except for a few short maintenance periods, until 23.59 UTC on May 30.

It is no longer possible to register as an applicant, but if you are already registered you can log in, review and submit new gTLD applications.

Icann claimed to have fixed the technical glitch (which others have described as a security breach) that caused the system to be taken down on April 12. It said it had also improved the overall system performance.

In what some may see as a remarkable understatement, the organisation added: “We recognize and regret the inconvenience caused by this glitch and the delayed closing of the application window.”

Applicants and their advisers who use the TAS have confirmed to Managing IP that it appears to be running smoothly since it was reopened.

In its responses to questions this week, Icann said it will publish the updated schedule by May 29. It also said: “Eval[uation] time periods to remain the same, will look to take advantage of any efficiencies realized” and admitted: “Technical and process lessons learned.”

It still aims to reveal the applied-for strings before the next Icann meeting, which starts in Prague on June 24.

It is already clear that there are likely to be far more than 2,000 applications, which means that the complex so-called digital archery process will be implemented to batch them in groups of about 500.

Icann said that digital archery (also known as secondary timestamp) will be open for about three weeks, starting before the reveal day and finishing after. It also said: “Icann will publish batches after the reveal, after the digital archery process is complete.”

In response to another question relating to concerns about digital archery, Icann said that digital archery would be tested and is simpler than the TAS.

But Jonathan Robinson of IP Rota told Managing IP that digital archery has the potential to be “an absolute nightmare if it is not handled fairly”.

While the applications are due to be processed in batches of about 500, Icann has also said that where there is more than one application for the same string they will be handled in the same batch out of fairness.

It is likely that, if there are multiple applications for a string, at least one of them will make the first batch and then the others will be advanced up the queue. So where does that leave other applications?

As Robinson said: “This process would seem to prejudice unique applicants, notably trade mark owners.

Icann has previously suggested that some companies might prefer to be in a later batch, if they are registering the gTLD for mainly defensive purposes. But Robinson said this is unrealistic: “Having paid $250,000 upfront, you might be disappointed to find you don’t have a chance to get your gTLD for up to two years. Why would anyone want to drop down a queue? No-one does that in business.”

Icann also revealed on Wednesday that it had received two new requests for refunds since it said it will offer full refunds, and said the Board is continuing its work on seeking a CEO to replace Rod Beckstrom.

And it confirmed that the $350 million it has received so far in new gTLD fees is being held in zero-interest accounts to take advantage of US FDIC insurance.

Many observers believe the fees received will far exceed the operational costs of the gTLD rollout, raising the possibility that Icann will eventually refund some fees to applicants.

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