Questions about the Guide
In addition to comments on the Guide, I proposed some questions for an ICANN FAQ. These are questions that many will have, and if the Guide is to be a guide, they will need to be answered. I hope they may be of use to ICANN staff. These were originally published as blog post on November 29 at http://www.namesatwork.com/blog/2008/10/29/questions-icann-should-answer .
Antony Van Couvering ****1. Is a geographic TLD by necessity community-based? If not, what is an example of a non-community-based geographic TLD?
2. I want to start a TLD for the 100,000-strong community of [rare- language] speakers. This will always be a small TLD, but vital to the interests of my community. Is the $75,000/yr fee to ICANN adjustable in any way?
3. ICANN goes into great detail to justify the estimated $185K application fee. I see no similar justification for the $75K (or 5% of registration revenues) annual fee payable to ICANN. What justification is there for this fee?
4. As an end-user, if I buy NAME.EXAMPLE, how do I know that the registry won’t raise the fees to an unaffordable level when it comes time to renew?
5. I want to start .EXAMPLE, but I’m afraid that no registrar will want to offer it. The way I read the rules my registry cannot also be a registrar, but the registrars I’ve talked to are not in the least interested in offering this. How can I make sure that there’s a sales outlet for my TLD?
6. I want to start .RARE-LANGUAGE, but all the registrars I’ve spoken to only use major languages on their sites. How can I make sure I’m able to reach my community in a language they can understand?
7. Once my application is approved, it may be a long time before I’m able to open to the public. I will have to sign a contract with ICANN, do marketing and communication to let people know my TLD exists, design and implement a trademark Sunrise period, until finally I can open to the public. I estimate this could take 6 - 9 months. It looks to me as if I might have to pay up to 3/4 of that fee before I see a penny of revenue. When does my $75,000 annual fee to ICANN start?
8. I’m quite concerned about dispute resolution. UDRP disputes are known to be quite variable. For instance, WIPO sides with trademark holders far more often than certain other dispute resolution providers. Furthermore, some decisions have been quite erratic, with similar cases resulting in radically different decisions. ICANN will be using similar procedures in case of an objection to my TLD, relying very heavily on just a few panelists, in many cases only one. So my (considerable) investment of time and money may be subject to the whim of a single panelist. Since there are no published guidelines for how a panelist should make his or her decision, and since there is no requirement that the panelist even justify the decision, and since there is no appeal allowed, and since I must agree to refrain from asking the courts to intercede, how can I re-assure my investors that the dispute resolution process will be rational and fair, and that their investment is not subject to undue risk?