Today, ICANN has published the long awaited list of applicants who have submitted applications for new gTLDs over the last three months. 1,930 new gTLD extensions have been applied for and these include brand names such as “.Canon”, “.Google” and generic names such as “.Home”.
Brand owners should be aware that the following procedures are now open in respect of the applied for gTLD extensions:
1. Government Advisory Committee (“GAC”) Early Warning System – this allows a GAC member to issue a notice that a new gTLD application is seen as potentially sensitive or problematic by one or more governments. The GAC Early Warning System will be available for 60 days from today’s date. If a notice is issued against a new gTLD application, the applicant can voluntarily withdraw their application, within 21 days of the close of the Early Warning Period and receive a refund of 80% of the fees paid. While an interested third party cannot influence the issuing of a GAC notice, it may be worth waiting to see if a GAC notice is issued before making a formal objection (see 3. below) to an application for a new gTLD.
2. Comment period –this allows anyone to provide comments on specific applications for new gTLDs. These comments will be available to the evaluation panel performing the Initial Evaluation reviews but it is important to note that these public comments will not be considered as formal objections.
3. Objection period – a formal objection to an applied for gTLD will have to fall within one of four categories: string confusion objection, legal rights objection, morality and public order objection or community objection. The objection period is open for 7 months from today’s date but if you feel that an objection to a particular gTLD might be necessary, you should seek advice now.
The key objection procedure for brand owners will be the legal rights objection as this can be used when an applied for gTLD string infringes the existing rights of the objector.
If you are considering making a legal rights objection, or would like further information about commenting or objecting to an application for a new gTLD extension, please contact Philip Zender based in the US or Lianne Bulger who is based in the UK and they will be able to assist you.