09|23|2009 01:27 pm EDT
New ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom has responded to the concerns regarding additional gTLDs raised by two of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s top Republicans, Lamar Smith and Howard Coble, saying that “the new gTLD policy development is the very type of process that the United States government envisioned, supported and encouraged through three presidential administrations.”
In the detailed letter, Beckstrom addressed the three key questions raised by the congressmen:
Q1: How will the recommendations put forth by the Implementation Recommendation Team (IRT) serve to reduce or eliminate the need for defensive registrations. Will any of the recommendations prevent price gouging by registries or registrars?
“ICANN’s new gTLD policy includes a provision requiring that new gTLDs ‘must not infringe the existing legal rights of others that are recognized or enforceable under generally accepted and internationally recognized principles of law.’ Accordingly, ICANN will, to the extent possible, protect trademark holders from abusive registrations and from the need for defensive registrations in new gTLDs, but no final decision has been made yet on the exact mechanisms that will be employed.
The New gTLD Program is being designed to with a goal of reducing or eliminating the need for businesses to register domains defensively. One of the key features of protection measures being discussed is a ‘rapid suspension’ system for freezing and suspending clearly infringing registrations in a timely and economical basis, consistent with procedures to ensure fairness… A reduction in the perceived need to register names defensively will also have the effect of reducing the perceived power of new gTLD registries to charge organizations artificially inflated prices for registrations in order to avoid becoming the target of opportunistic cybersquatters.”
Q2: Does ICANN intend to carry out a comprehensive, empirical economic study to examine the impact on competition that additional gTLDs may have? Assuming the rollout goes forward, what steps will ICANN take to monitor the impact on competition in the future?
“ICANN has commissioned three separate economic reports during the implementation phase of the New gTLD Program… They have all recognized that the fundamental benefits of competition that apply in almost all other markets will also benefit Internet users. Those benefits include enhanced service offerings, competition, innovation and choice in the domain name market, while other costs to registrants and overall economic modeling need further analysis…
…In the end, calling for a delay in the entry of new gTLDs only serves to perpetuate existing market conditions: concentration within some existing registries, with most short generic strings unavailable, and those that trade on the value of the current marketplace, holding portfolios based upon the value of current .COM names.
…ICANN will retain economists to review and summarize work to date regarding the costs and benefits of new gTLDs, putting that work into the context of the questions some have said remain open, and then evaluate whether additional study is required.”
Q3: Do you recognize a need for and support the establishment of a permanent instrument that memorializes the relationship between ICANN and the U.S. Government? What assurances do citizens of the United States have that ICANN will effectively meet the goals set out in the JPA if it or a successor agreement is not formally extended?
“It is important to note that the conclusion of the JPA is not a termination of ICANN’s relationship with the United States Government nor is ICANN an advocate of that possibility…
…ICANN seeks to have a long term, formal relationship with the United States Government and also seeks to build long-term relationships with other countries and contractual partners as well.
What do you think of Rod Beckstrom’s response? Are you in favor of the new gTLDs? Do you agree with the way ICANN has handled the process thus far?