Release of list is an important step toward what likely will be a dramatic change to the Internet; interested parties have until August 12 to submit comments.
Earlier today, after almost two months of delays, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a California nonprofit organization tasked with administering certain Internet governance functions, published a list of the applications that it received from parties seeking to operate new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) registries. Additional information regarding ICANN's new gTLD program may be found in our September 9, 2011, LawFlash.
In total, ICANN received 1,930 applications for 1,700 new gTLD strings intended for use by various parties (i.e., general consumers, specifically identified Internet and/or geographic communities, individual corporations and their customers, and non-English, foreign-language speakers). Additional information regarding each applied-for gTLD string may also be found online here.
Interested parties now have 60 days (or until August 12, 2012) to submit public comments to ICANN for consideration by either ICANN's evaluating committees or the dispute resolution providers that have contracted with ICANN to coordinate claims under ICANN's established dispute resolutions procedures (e.g., the World Intellectual Property Organization).
ICANN has established dispute resolution procedures based upon four grounds: string confusion objections, legal rights objections, limited public interest objections, and community objections. Of these procedures, the legal rights objection procedure will likely be the most useful to trademark owners. The window for submitting an objection under one of these procedures will last approximately seven months (or until January 13, 2013), but may close sooner.
Given the foregoing information, we encourage clients to review the list of applied-for gTLD strings and consider whether any of these strings infringe upon or otherwise undermine their rights.
Morgan Lewis is poised to assist clients with this process, whether they require assistance understanding their options under ICANN's policies, identifying and executing cost-effective rights management strategies, drafting public comments in support of or against a gTLD application, preparing and/or defending objections filed under ICANN's dispute resolution procedures or in a court of law, or seeking redress from a governmental authority.
If you have any questions or would like more information about ICANN's new gTLD program, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis professionals:
Carla B. Oakley