ICANN’s plan to open up the Internet to a new level of addressing in the form of custom top level domains is delayed… due to technical difficulties. The already besieged initiative, as we reported last month, is under scrutiny for a systemic glitch as explained in a statement last Thursday from ICANN chief operating officer Akram Atallah:
ICANN constantly monitors the performance of the TLD Application System (TAS). Recently, we received a report of unusual behavior with the operation of the TAS system. We then identified a technical issue with the TAS system software.
ICANN is taking the most conservative approach possible to protect all applicants and allow adequate time to resolve the issue. Therefore, TAS will be shut down until Tuesday at 23:59 UTC - unless otherwise notified before that time.
In order to ensure all applicants have sufficient time to complete their applications during the disruption, the application window will remain open until 23:59 UTC on Friday, 20 April 2012.
We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. If you have any questions, please contact the gTLD Customer Service Center (CSC) via the CSC portal.
So far, 839 companies have paid $185,000 to submit vanity domains in response to ICANN’s approval last June of an increase in gTLDs (generic top-level domains) from the current 22. The plan is to offer new benefits to Internet users such as the ability to create new TLDs in non-Latin, non-English scripts.
Trademark owners have criticized the plan as inadequate and confusing in protecting intellectual property rights on hundreds or thousands of new TLDs.
Some of the pros and cons of the debate on domain names were addressed in a recent Interbrand white paper.
The remaining timeline per ICANN, pending technical glitches:
May 1, 2012: "Reveal Day" – ICANN will publish a list of all the TLD strings for which applications have been filed. This date will also trigger two processes: 1) Application Comment Process – Between May 1 and June 30, any interested party may submit comments regarding any of the proposed gTLDs for consideration by the application evaluation panels. 2) Objection Period – Beginning May 1, and for approximately 7 months, formal objections to any of the new gTLD applications based on string confusion, legal objections, community concerns, or limited public interest bases may be filed.
June 12, 2012: Initial evaluation of gTLD applications begins, focusing on possible string confusion, similarity with reserved strings, geographic name ineligibility, or potential instability.
October 2012: ICANN will announce the organization operating the Trademark Clearinghouse and publish their procedures, rules and regulations.
November 12, 2012: Initial evaluation period ends and results posted.
November 29, 2012: Last day for applicants or evaluators to request extended evaluation to consider additional information regarding application, string, and applicant.
January 2013: ICANN expects 1) the first NgTLDs to begin operation, and 2) trademark owners to begin recording trademarks with the Trademark Clearinghouse.