ICANN’s Implementation Recommendation Team for New gTLDs: Safeguards Needed

by on March 24, 2009 · 11 comments

I’ve been working closely with PFF Adjunct Fellow & former ICANN Board member Michael D. Palage on ICANN issues.  Michael had this to say about the ongoing saga of ICANN’s attempt to create new gTLDs.

During the recent ICANN Board meeting in Mexico City, the Board authorized the creation and funding of an Implementation Recommendation Team (IRT).  This team was to be comprised of “an internationally diverse group of persons with knowledge, expertise, and experience in the fields of trademark, consumer protection, or competition law, and the interplay of trademarks and the domain name system to develop and propose solutions to the overarching issue of trademark protection in connection with the introduction of new gTLDs.” This IRT is tasked to produce a report for consideration by the ICANN community at the Sydney meeting.

The IRT consists of 24 members:

  • Chairwoman Caroline G. Chicoine; and
  • Seventeen members; and
  • Six ex officio members:  Four IPC-elected officers and two-GNSO elected Board Directors (Bruce Tonkin and Rita Rodin Johnston).  

I have a number of friends and colleagues serving on this team and I wish them well in their important endeavor.

I’ve previously proposed a number of rights-protection mechanisms that IRT should consider.  Today, I offer a few suggestions that I hope will guide IRT as they embark on their important work tomorrow.  In particular, I hope they’ll implement some of my suggestions intended to make the IRT process more transparent-so the rest of the global Internet can follow along with their important work and provide constructive input where possible.

Progress on Point Volume 16, Issue 10 March 2009 ICANN’s Implementation Recommendation Team for New gTLDs: Safeguards Needed by Michael D. Palage1 Significant concerns have been raised2 about ICANN’s proposal3 for processing large numbers of applications for new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) such as .BLOG. ICANN’s goal is to expand the domain name space and thus increase competition and innovation. But the global business community has expressed strong concern that, without greater protections for trademark holders, the effect of ICANN’s proposal would be not so much to expand the domain name space as to duplicate it by requiring large numbers of defensive registrations for every new gTLD created. It is Internet users who ultimately bear the dead-weight costs to business of defensive registrations and who really suffer from increased domain name confusion and vulnerability to phishing scams. ICANN deserves credit for responding to these concerns by creating an Implementation Recommendation Team (IRT) responsible for proposing procedural and substantive safeguards for the new gTLD process.4 I offer four recommendations to ensure the IRT’s success: • The IRT should conduct all its deliberations in an open and transparent manner. Michael D. Palage is an Adjunct Fellow with The Progress & Freedom Foundation’s (PFF) Center for Internet Freedom (CIF). He served on the ICANN Board from 2003 to 2006. The views expressed in this report are the author’s own, and are not necessarily the views of the PFF board, fellows or staff. 1. In the interest of openness and transparency, it is important to disclose that I actively pursued a membership on the IRT. While ultimately not selected, I look forward to monitoring the group’s activities through the mechanisms proposed in this article and making constructive comments accordingly. See Michael Palage, “ICANN’s ‘Go/ No-Go’ Decision Concerning New gTLDs,” The Progress & Freedom Foundation, Progress on Point Volume 16, Issue 3 (Feb 2009), available at http://www.pff.org/issues-pubs/pops/2009/pop16.3gTLDgonogo.pdf. ICANN, “Draft Applicant Guidebook, Version 2,” Feb. 18, 2009, available at http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtlds/draft-rfp-clean-18feb09-en.pdf. ICANN, “Adopted Board Resolutions, Mexico,” March 6, 2009, available at http://www.icann.org/en/minutes/resolutions-06mar09.htm. 2. 3. 4. 1444 EYE STREET, NW SUITE 500 WASHINGTON, D.C. 20005 202-289-8928 mail@pff.org www.pff.org 

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