In the New gTLD Applicant Guidebook, there is a provision that if ICANN receives more than 500 new gTLD applications, then applications will be processed in “batches.” The first batch will consist of 500 applications, and subsequent batches will consist of 400 applications apiece. This batching process is designed to allow the third-party evaluator that ICANN hires to process applications to handle any extended evaluations, string contentions, or any other issues that may arise without overwhelming its capacity.
Until recently, the process for determining how the applications would be broken into batches was unknown. The Guidebook simply states, “a process external to the application submission process will be employed to establish evaluation priority. This process will be based on an online ticketing system or other objective criteria.”
At a special meeting of the ICANN Board on December 8, Board members approved a resolution that authorized the President and CEO (i.e., Rod Beckstrom) to develop a plan to determine the processing order in the event that batching is necessary. This plan will propose to the ICANN community that a “secondary time stamp” be used to determine the processing order of applications should there be multiple batches. If they wish to be included in an early batch, applicants will have to obtain this time stamp through a specific process after the application period closes in April.
There’s no word yet on whether ICANN will charge applicants for this secondary time stamps, but we’re not counting out the possibility.
The operational process around this secondary time stamp has not been full developed, but ICANN has disclosed that it will not be a random selection process. According to the meeting minutes, while random selection would be the best option from an operational standpoint, “It is likely to result in lawsuit based upon California law that makes operation of a lottery illegal in most cases.”
ICANN did take care to point out, though, that there will be no preference given to applicants based on when they apply. This dispels rumors that had been circulating that submitting an application early could lead to the early delegation of that applied-for gTLD.
We will keep our readers posted as this develops further, so check back with gTLD Strategy for updates.