Second Round: Not If, but When?

FairWinds Partners —  February 10, 2012

The ICANN Board has reaffirmed its commitment to opening a second round of applications for the New gTLD Program as “expeditiously as possible,” a move that surprised approximately no one. The Board still doesn’t “get” that for brand owners, the major unknown about the second application round is not the if, but the when.

The ICANN Board insists that it cannot say specifically when the next round will occur until all first round applications have been processed and the Government Advisory Committee’s assessment of trademark protections and root zone operation from the first round has been reviewed. But through conversations that FairWinds has had with the top brass at ICANN, we have learned that this is likely to be five to seven years down the road—an eternity in Internet marketing years. For most major brands, this means that the choice is between applying now or losing a competitive edge over their peers. Unless ICANN is ready to commit to a hard-and-fast date for the second application round, it shouldn’t be surprised by large numbers of defensively filed first round applications.