Archives For Registry Agreement

ICANN has posted a “Proposed Final New gTLD Registry Agreement” for public comment, and it’s no surprise many gTLD applicants are not satisfied.

This latest version of the Registry Agreement (RA) “is the result of several months of negotiations, formal community feedback during a public comment forum initiated on 5 February 2013, and meetings with various stakeholders and communities,” ICANN states.

Despite the work that went into it, many applicants hope that this version will not be the last.

The RA features a number of updates and changes – including revisions to the amendment process, a new confidentiality provision, and revisions to registry owners’ rights and obligations on reserved names.

But much work remains.

ICANN’s process for amending the RA – after registries sign it – is still the object of intense debate. Many argue this top-down approach is antithetical to ICANN’s consensus-building, multi-stakeholder process, but ICANN has shown little to no inclination to budge on this point. Brand stakeholders also remain concerned about insufficient trademark protections in the event a registry fails.

The Registry Agreement Negotiating Team (RA-NT) – an informal group with no decisional authority that nevertheless worked with ICANN on the redraft – issued a statement making clear it expects additional changes upon closure of the public comment period, over a month away.

For now, we eagerly anticipate reaction from the ICANN community and the ICANN board and wonder whether the board will accept the community’s feedback before final terms are approved.

FairWinds CEO Nao Matsukata is advocating for ICANN to offer an alternative draft Registry Agreement (RA) for Internal Registries, whose needs are uniquely different from those of new gTLD Registries who plan to sell second-level domain names to the public.

Matsukata’s recommendation – made in a letter to ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé dated March 27 – is based on extensive experience. FairWinds associates prepared 150 applications for over 50 corporations, have held numerous client discussions about the new gTLD process, and carefully reviewed the Public Comments.

A separate, specific contract could shorten the negotiation process for Internal Registry applicants, thereby freeing up ICANN’s resources to process applications for public gTLDs. Matsukata believes that this type of substantive change will result in real process improvements for all applicants.

He is also confident that ICANN can modify its current process before gTLD delegations begin.

As Bloomberg BNA reported last week,“Though the turnaround time on new contracts at ICANN is typically not quick, it might be possible for ICANN to publish a new contract in keeping with its current timelines, Matsukata remarked.”

New Year, New ICANN?

FairWinds Partners —  February 1, 2013

The ICANN staff has had a very busy month, jetting around the globe to meet with various stakeholders, constituencies and other groups. These meetings not only bridge the long gap between the most recent Public Meeting in Toronto, which took place back in October, and the next Public Meeting in Beijing, which will be held in April, but they come at a fairly crucial time in the new gTLD process. Continue Reading…