As ICANN 77 officially kicks off in Washington DC today, the issues of closed generics and IDNs have already emerged as big drag factors on the launch of the next new gTLD application round.
During a day-long “day zero” session yesterday, the community heard that the absolute fastest the GNSO will be able to make policy on closed generics is 96 weeks — over 22 months — using its “expedited” Policy Development Process.
Meanwhile, making policy on internationalized domain names — mainly, how to handle string similarity conflicts in non-Latin scripts — is not expected to be done until March 2026 at the earliest. And that’s through an “expedited” PDP that has already been running for over two years.
The predicted closed generics timetable (on page 16 of this PDF presentation) is actually relatively aggressive compared to the two previous EPDPs (on post-GDPR Whois policy) that the GNSO has previously completed.
It only calls for 36 weeks — about eight months — for the actual working group deliberations, for example, compared to the 48 weeks the equally controversial Whois EPDP took a few years ago.
But the expected duration prompted some criticism yesterday from those wondering why, for example, a “call for volunteers” needs to take as long as three months to carry out.
The timetable was written up prior to the publication over the weekend of a draft framework for closed generics (pdf), which lays out a few dozen principles that should be taken into account in subsequent EPDP work.
With what looks like a certain amount of wheel-reinvention, the document describes a points-based system for determining whether an applicant is worthy of a closed generic. It seems to be based quite a lot on the process used to assess “Community” applications in the 2012 round.
The framework was created in private over the last six months by a cross-community group of 14 people from the GNSO and Governmental Advisory Committee. Chatham House rules applied, so we don’t know exactly whose opinions made it into the final draft. But it exists now, and at first glance it looks like a decent starting point for a closed generics policy.
The major issue is that the work, at its core, is about predicting and preemptively shutting down all the ways devious corporate marketing people might try to blag themselves a closed generic for competitive or defensive purposes, rather than for the public interest, and I’m not sure that’s possible.
Discussion on closed generics will continue this week at ICANN 77, including a session that starts around about the same time I’m hitting publish on this article.