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Will there be 2,000 gTLDs?

There were more than 2,000 applications for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) before the system was taken offline on April 12, ICANN said on Friday night

The figure is at the top end of most predictions.

The organization revealed the number in its latest update on the software problems that have forced a delay in the new gTLD program. It plans to reopen the program for at least five working days once the technical issues have been resolved, and all affected applicants have been notified. Notification is expected to be completed by Tuesday.

The number of applications could rise further during that period. However, it is also likely that some applications are for the same string. The names of the strings applied for were due to be published on April 30 but this date has been delayed. They will likely be revealed several weeks after the closing date.

The new gTLD program was launched in February and enables anyone to apply to own and operate a TLD. Applications can be for generic words, geographical terms, names—and brands. The cost of each application is US$185,000.

ICANN had previously said that if there were a large number of new gTLD applications, they would be dealt with in batches of 500. There is a complex set of criteria determining which applications will go in which batch.

Claudio Di Gangi, Manager of External Relations, Internet and the Judiciary at INTA, said trademark owners will have to rely on their established plans to take action in a timely manner, such as by filing a Legal Rights Objection through WIPO, when the applied-for names are published. “The technical problems with ICANN’s online application system serve as a stark reminder of the many risks inherent in the organization’s program for the broadest expansion of the domain name system in history,” he added.

Di Gangi urged ICANN to put in place sufficient protections to protect consumers and brand owners, and complete safeguards such as the Trademark Clearinghouse and Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS): “To reduce uncertainty and address the legitimate concerns of stakeholders, ICANN should take measures to improve its public transparency and accountability.”

INTA Internet Committee chair Adam Scoville of RE/MAX said: “In terms of the overall competence of ICANN to function as a private sector organization, this will be an incident that will not be easily forgotten.” He added that ICANN is also “far behind” with developing the Clearinghouse and the URS: “That has a direct impact on when new gTLDs will launch.” Scoville said the INTA Internet Committee will seek to ensure that all successful gTLD applicants take IP protection measures seriously and do not seek exclusions. INTA will host a webinar on defensive protection at the top level soon after the application strings are revealed.

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