The second day of ICANN49 was “visiting day” for the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), with various ICANN staff and stakeholder groups meeting with the GNSO. Meanwhile, the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), ICANN’s mini-United Nations, huddled in another room, also receiving visitors from time to time.
The GNSO was visited by Cyrus Namazi and others from the Generic Domains Division (GDD), the group within ICANN staff tasked with running the New gTLD Program and dealing with existing gTLDs as well. We received a breakneck summary of the status of applications. Most objections to the new gTLDs have now been resolved – only 14 are still left to resolve. It looks like ICANN will be running some “last resort” auctions to resolve contention sets (where there are multiple applicants for the same domain name). In last resort auctions, ICANN keeps the money paid by the winning bidder. In private auctions or other arrangements, the losing bidder(s) get paid by the winning bidder. The last resort auction is only used where the bidders cannot agree among themselves to resolve the contention set privately (hence the “last resort” name). Some thought there would be no last resort auctions, so this was a mild surprise.
The real surprise from the GDD came out when they announced their intention to measure and track the economic and social impact of the new gTLDs, in order to prepare for round two of new gTLD applications. Round Two? Round Two? Many have asked if there would be a Round Two; now. It appears that Round Two is a “when” and a “how,” not an “if.” For those of you who survived Round One, this is big news. If you felt left out, this is good news. If you are a first round applicant, this may be bad news, as more competition floods the market. If you are a brandowner, still trying to figure out how to police and enforce your trademarks in over 1,000 new domains, be prepared to redouble your efforts. Brandowners should look at Round Two skeptically – is it needed? Can issues in Round One be resolved? Can it be stopped? Be prepared to spend time, money and effort on these questions, if you want to help shape the answers.
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