ICANN 54 – Onward to Dublin

September 11, 2015

By Clark W. Lackert, Reed Smith LLP

As was reported here earlier in June, two workstreams were moving to complete the transition proposal for the IANA (technical) functions of ICANN, the ICG (“IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group) and the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability). ICG had completed its draft report earlier this year and the CCWG had been working hard all summer to complete its draft report, which was just submitted to the ICANN Board. To almost everyone’s surprise, the Board expressed serious issues with the report and thus it is unlikely that the full transition process will be approved at the upcoming October 18-22 meeting in Dublin. Why is this important to advertisers and brand owners? Simply, this delay will further complicate the timeline and now it has become more unlikely that the IANA transition to the “PTI” (“Post Transition IANA”) will happen in 2016. Thus, it is also likely that the new domain name “Round 2” which was scheduled for 2016 or early 2017 will also be pushed back. The Board had several objections to the CCWG report, particularly those sections and provisions which diminished Board power, and in effect created a counterproposal. A transcript of the Board call can be found here.

Another major report is now open for comment by interested parties before October 10, 2015, namely the “Preliminary Issue Report on New gTLD Subsequent Procedures.” This report is of great importance to brand owners since the window is now open for comments on how the current gTLD (“generic top level domain”) system has worked and how it can be improved in the future. All ANA members are urged to carefully study this report and provide their comments before the deadline. Additionally, ANA may wish to provide comments as well and thus members are urged to send in their comments to ANA on what has and what has not worked in the current gTLD round.

Finally, the Governmental Advisory Committee (“GAC”) may continue to push its “Geo Names Proposal” at the next meeting. Although there are no documents open for comment now, it is possible there will be a need for quick action if this roundly criticized proposal continues to circulate. The GAC did indicate that it will coordinate with the existing “CWG on Country and Territory Names”, which is a positive development since this group is approaching its work in a thoughtful and methodical manner, cognizant of international legal principles which protect trademarks. As always, brand owners of trademarks with possible geographical significance need to watch these developments very carefully.

Needless to say, there will be a full agenda in Dublin.

Reed Smith LLP is the ANA’s General Counsel.

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