• ICANN Publishes Target Date For the Delegation of the First New gTLD
  • April 3, 2013
  • Law Firm: Crowell Moring LLP - Washington Office
  • The policy for introducing new generic top level domains (gTLDs) or domain name extensions was approved by the ICANN Board on 20 June 2011. Over 1.900 applications for operating new gTLDs were timely submitted to ICANN and about 1.200 new gTLDs may be introduced. At present, ICANN is evaluating all gTLD applications. According to ICANN's latest information, the first new gTLD may go live later this year.

    Background

    In the past, ICANN has often been criticized for not being able to comply with self-imposed deadlines and target dates. In connection to the introduction of new gTLDs, the community long feared that the process would suffer further delays, because of ongoing discussions about the implementation and set-up of mandatory rights protection mechanisms.

    New gTLDs to be expected soon

    On 13 February 2013, ICANN provided for the first time a specific date on which it expects to be ready. ICANN's CEO said in an interview that ICANN expects to be able to recommend for delegation the first new gTLD on 23 April 2013. As from that date, new gTLDs will be delegated using a phased approach.

    This announcement came as a surprise to the community, as ICANN had not yet given any indication that the mandatory rights protection mechanisms would be timely implemented. Shortly after the communication of 13 February 2013, ICANN and providers of rights protection mechanisms commented on the progress made in this respect (See the Article on New tool to combat cybersquatting ready for implementation and the Article about the Trademark Clearinghouse that is about to launch in this newsletter).

    It remains important to note that the recommendation for delegation does not mean that the gTLD will go live on 23 April 2013. The go-live date will depend on the Applicant's readiness and marketing plan. However, we would not be surprised that the first gTLD applicant who gets delegated the gTLD will make use of the momentum and launch the gTLD shortly after 23 April 2013.

    Conclusion

    As the introduction of new gTLDs may be expected soon, companies who want to register domain names in new gTLDs should prepare themselves to analyze the registration policies of this first new gTLDs and assess how they can claim rights in these new extensions.