Closed Generics

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Closed Generics are exclusive gTLDs.[1] ICANN has no explicit policy on closed generic TLDs.


  • In the 2012 New gTLD Program, no closed generics were delegated.
  • In 2015, the Board’s New gTLD Program Committee (NGPC) resolved that the registry operators of a generic string are prohibited from imposing eligibility criteria for registering names in the TLD that would limit registrations exclusively to a single person or entity and/or that person’s or entity’s affiliates.[2]
  • On February 2, 2021, the Working Group for the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures PDP submitted its final report, explaining it was unable to come to an agreement on the handling of closed (aka exclusive) generic TLDs. The Working Group noted:

The Working Group notes that in the 2012 round of the New gTLD Program, a decision was made by the ICANN Board to [allow applicants to] either (a) “submit a change request to no longer be an exclusive generic TLD”, (b) “withdraw their application” or (c) “maintain their plan to operate an exclusive generic TLD,” which would operate to defer their application to the next round of the New gTLD Program, subject to rules developed for the next round, to allow time for the GNSO to develop policy advice concerning exclusive generic TLDs.” All applicants in 2012 chose either options (a) or (b). The result was that no exclusive generic gTLDs (also called “Closed Generic” gTLDs) were delegated in the first round.
It was the expectation of the ICANN Board that the GNSO would “develop policy advice concerning exclusive generic TLDs.” Although the Working Group has had numerous discussions about this topic, and received extensive comments from the community, including members of the Governmental Advisory Committee, the Working Group was not able to agree on “policy advice concerning exclusive generic TLDs.”[1]

  • On June 1, 2021, the GAC submitted a collective comment for the Board ahead of ICANN 71.
  • On January 3, 2022, ICANN Organization launched an Operational Design Phase (ODP) in response to the Sub Pro PDP WG Final Report, identifying several policy issues for the ICANN Board to address, including closed generics.[3]
  • In March 2022, ICANN Board Chair Maarten Botterman sent a letter to the GNSO Council and GAC, reinforcing the need for clarity and predictability on the issue of closed generic TLDs:

In its Final Report the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process Working Group did not reach consensus on a specific policy on closed generics. The GAC has since reiterated its advice in the Beijing Communique about closed generics/exclusive registries.
In view of the need for clarity on this issue for the next gTLD application round, the Board invites the GNSO Council and the GAC to explore a mutually agreeable way forward, for which the Board could facilitate a dialogue to formulate a workable framework to identify and handle closed generic applications for the immediate next round of new gTLDs.[4]

The Board requested a Framing Paper from ICANN org to present a more detailed scope and methodology for the dialogue between the two organizations.[5]

  • In June 2022, at ICANN 74,
    • the GNSO Council formed a small team to review the ICANN org Framing Paper on closed generics and provide recommendations for the Council and released a report on the topic.[6]
    • Kathy Kleiman noted that the Framing Paper does not fully discuss worldwide objections and deep concerns raised by GAC and the world in 2012-3 and said it would be useful for the GAC to review the dozens of Early Warnings filed by individual GAC members and comments of concern to the Board from small businesses, organizations and individuals around the world.
    • Jorge Cancio discussed the desire to avoid extreme views (completely bar or allow a free for all), to allow ALAC to be part of the process, and the hunt for a fair facilitator.

Key Players on the Topic

GNSO Small Team on Closed Generics



The Facilitator

At ICANN 74, the GNSO and GAC held a bilateral discussion on the hunt for a closed generics facilitator.[8]

  • GNSO said maybe a professional mediator
  • GAC and board seek a facilitator who is a well-respected member of the ICANN community, with a track record of respectfully and tactfully building consensus, and independent from commercial interests; a good understanding of the closed generics issue and its history but not directly involved in SubPro PDP WG discussions; and willing and able to proactively help different parties find a mutually acceptable solution.

On July 25, 2022, the ICANN Board proposed Melissa Peters Allgood, the Conflict Resolution Specialist on ICANN Organization’s Policy Development [Policy|Support team]] to serve as the facilitator for the GAC/GNSO Council dialogue. After the GAC and the GNSO Council confirm their agreement with Allgood as the facilitator, ICANN org and Allgood will draft a Problem Statement and Briefing Paper for AC and SO's review and agreement.[9]