ICANN Takes Aim at Logistics of Processing New gTLD Applications with “Digital Archery” Batching

April 20, 2012

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, has announced that it will adopt a "secondary timestamp" method for batching new generic top level domain (gTLD) applications if the number of applications "significantly exceeds 500 applications."

ICANN previously announced that it is only equipped to process 500 new gTLD applications at a time, and that it would be forced to review applications in batches if substantially more than 500 final applications were submitted. Since more than 839 application spaces have been reserved, and each space will permit up to 50 final applications, we expect that far more than 500 final applications will be filed and that the batching procedure will be required. After months of reviewing methods for determining batches, on March 30 ICANN announced that it will adopt a secondary timestamp method that its staff first announced at the recent ICANN43 meeting in Costa Rica. In its announcement, ICANN characterizes the process as being "kind of like a game of digital archery."

This batching process only affects the order in which final applications will be reviewed, and will not give priority to applications. Batches will not be based on the time at which the application was submitted to ICANN, nor will they be based on a random selection method. Instead, applicants will be required to register into an online system to set a future time target -- a time at which they will be required to log-in with the batching program. Applicants will be assigned to batches based on how close they log-in to the set time target.

In order to "ensure that no one part of the globe dominates the first batch, and to mitigate against any differences in response times depending on where the nearest internet server is", ICANN will, however, group applicants into geographic regions prior to grouping them by secondary timestamp, using a proportional model to ensure that both the geographic representation and the results of the secondary timestamp are reflected in the batching.

In addition, applicants may opt out of the batch process, in which case their applications will be placed in a final batch. Also, if two or more organizations apply for "the same or similar" top-Level domain, all of the contending applications will placed in the earliest batch designated for one of the applicants.

While this process appears haphazard, it was necessitated by serious issues that other forms of batch-selection (including random placement) raised. What is not clear is how long it will take for each batch of applications to be reviewed and whether the delegation of domain names will also proceed by these batches or will be made at a single time.

More information and mockups of the online timestamp pages can be found at: http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/applicants/tas/batching-basics.

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