262 New gTLD objections filed

During an ICANN briefing attended by NetNames in Brussels yesterday on  25 June, Vice President for gTLD operations Christine Willett gave an update on the process designed to allow those who are unhappy with one of the 1,930 applications received by ICANN to object to it.

That number has actually come down since last June when ICANN revealed the list of applications made. "We've had 81 withdrawals leaving us with 1849 active applications," Willett explained, adding that a more withdrawals were still being processed.

Willett underscored the extensive work already covered by ICANN's evaluating panel. "900 applications have gone through Initial Evaluation," she said, adding that 9 of those will have to go through Extended Evaluation because their evaluation score, although sufficient to avoid an outright fail, were not high enough to pass.

Whilst applications continue to be evaluated with ICANN having now reached its cruising speed of about 100 a week, the objection period has also come to an end with 262 objections being filed. As a result, ICANN has so far received 139 admissible applicant responses and 119 filings are currently being reviewed, 4 having been dismissed due to the applicant withdrawing.

Willett addressed applicant's ire at the costs some have been quoted by one of the Dispute Resolution Service Providers, the International Centre of Expertise of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) which handles Limited Public Interest and Community Objections. "We are aware that ICC fees are more than people were expecting," she said. "Some applicants have been quoted around 50,000 Euros for a one expert panel and 150,000 Euros for a three expert panel. Although in the same order of magnitude as the cost estimate listed in the applicant guidebook, they are still higher. In some cases, significantly higher. In fact, we had one applicant write to us last week saying that their quoted expert fee was more than the ICANN fees for submitting their application in the first place! So we have reached out to ICC and are hoping they can provide some rationale for the costs they are quoting."

Willett closed by committing to providing regular updates to ICANN's "earliest path" timeline to new gTLD launch which we discussed in a previous post. "The provisional timeline we show during our monthly webinars will be updated according to latest events and milestones reached."

The next milestones are expected around the Durban meeting, where ICANN hopes to be in a position to complete the registrar and registry contract negotiations and start sending out Contracting Information Requests to applicants as they become eligible for contract signatures.

Written by Stéphane Van Gelder (Chairman and Managing Director of Stéphane Van Gelder Consulting Ltd.)

26 June 2013