Strange gTLD “STRING CHANGE” PETITION TO ICANN

The ICANN gTLD process is possibly one of the largest and most ambitious process of expanding the internet namespace from below 25 to well above 1000 depending on the number of applied for gTLDs that will pass the evaluation and finally go to delegation.

 
The number of applied for gTLD’s fell at about 1930 but this number has changed a bit due to the number of gTLD withdrawals that have been finalized. This being a new process and a large one for that matter its was bound to have some teething problems.

 
Some of the problems that were seen after the guidebook had been released and presented was the application portal that faced some glitch that allowed other applicants to see information by other applicants in the TAS, this glitch though it delayed the timelines a bit was solved. Its indeed a process that has never been experienced before and was bound to have some hitches.

 
However one of the main issue that has been brought to focus is the ability of applicants to change portions of their applications. This included errors that appeared in their strings for instance the famous Kerry logistics and .dotafrica

 
Another major issue is building and this involves the actual change of strings by applicant, a matter that can significantly alter the way the gTLD process goes. An organization by the name STRINGCHANGE.ORG has created a petition page that is supposed to ask ICANN to allow the applicants to “allow the option of a “String Change” to applicants in contention, allowing these applicants, if they so choose, to change their string to another string and rewrite the appropriate parts of their applications. In doing so, these applicants would relinquish the right to their original string that is in contention, and be assessed a reevaluation fee of $100,000.” The application fee is 185 000 USD quite an investment.

 

“this also creates fairness for smaller groups to have the opportunity to launch and operate a TLD, especially when they are currently up against corporate giants such as Amazon or Google. The applicants in contention who opt for this “String Change” would agree to be put into a 2nd round of “Application Reevaluation.” This would have the added benefit of allowing those applicants that are not in contention (or no longer in contention) to launch more quickly. In addition, it would set the stage for an exciting 2nd round of launching hundreds more unique TLDs in the upcoming year.”

The ICANN guidebook section 4.1.3 Self-Resolution of String Contention says that

Applicants may resolve string contention in a manner whereby one or more applicants withdraw their applications. An applicant may not resolve string contention by selecting a new string or by replacing itself with a joint venture. It is understood that applicants may seek to establish joint ventures in their efforts to resolve string contention. However, material changes in applications (for example, combinations of applicants to resolve contention) will require re-evaluation.

 
Other applicants have only requested for correction of their applied for strings but this petition actually seeks to modify the applicant guidebook which may be a daunting task to convince ICANN and the community to agree to.

 
Some of the changes requested are expected to allow “re-evaluation of  “applications to resolve string contention for a combination of applicants and pay an extra re-evaluation fee, it should be additionally allowed to resolve String Contention by one or more applicants opting for a “String Change” to another desired TLD string that is available, and of course, accepting the required additional fees or evaluation in a subsequent application round to begin after all TLDs have been evaluated from the initial batches of the 1,930 applicants.”

 
And “It is our proposal that this opportunity be given to the applicants that put years of efforts and hundreds of thousands of dollars behind their application submission and business models to operate a TLD registry. To not provide this reasonable solution does not promote fairness, especially when an applicant is in contention with corporate giants such as Amazon or Google.”

 

To quote the petitioner
Suggested Rules for the proposed String Change:
  • Applicants agree to relinquish the right to their current string in contention and choose a second, unique string.
  • Applicants must submit a reevaluation fee of $100,000 for application review.
  • Applicants must acknowledge to ICANN (the method being at ICANN’s discretion) that they agree to be placed in the “String Change” round, starting next year, 2014, after all the currently applied for strings have completed the evaluation process.
  • Applicants choosing “String Change” would agree to the terms which state, “If the new string chosen is in contention, the previous string resolution procedures apply.”
  • Once opting for another string, applicants can not opt back to their original string choice.
  • Applicants will not be allowed to select any string that has already been applied for in the current application round or a string that ICANN considers confusingly similar.
The petition closes by saying that “Sign the Petition below with your TLD that is in string contention. We will present the “String Change” signed petition to ICANN for consideration. To protect your privacy and any string contention strategy, your signature will not be made public and will be presented to ICANN for their internal review.”

 
We do not know if ICANN will be able to consider this petition but however it goes, it’s definitely an issue that ICANN might want to think about.

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