Geographic Names Panel
The Geographic Names Panel is one of multiple panels that are involved in ICANN's initial evaluation process for new gTLDs. It is responsible for determining if the proposed new gTLD represents a geographic name (country or territory name, sub-national geographic name, city name, continent or UN Region) under the standards set forth by Applicant Guidebook. The panel will also evaluate if the geographic name being applied for requires government support and ensures that the supporting documents from government authorities included in the application are verified and original. 
It was predicted that the Geographic Names Panel would be able to finish its evaluation ahead of many of the other panels, finishing on or around November 12, 2012.
Google Violates Geographic Rules
It was quickly noted following the public reveal that Google had applied for three strings that were clearly in violation of the protection of geographic territory names as per the ISO-3166 standards. Their applications for .and, .are, and .est are all protected names on that list, for Andorra, the United Arab Emirates, and Estonia respectively. .and was intended for use as a Brand TLD for Google's android services, while .est and .are were intended as "domain hacks", so domains such as cats.are/best and fast.est/car would be made possible. These applications were later withdrawn, though a full-refund was not given.
On March 7th 2013, it was announced that the following strings refer to geographic areas but did not apply as geoTLDs: .bar, .tata, .tui; while the following strings applied for as geographic but do not actually refer to a geographic area: .ist, .ryukyu, .scot, .vegas, .frl, .zulu. Kevin Murphy, of Domain Incite, noted that other TLDs referring to known geographic areas were not singled out, including: .capital, .delta.
Other Panels and evaluations involved in the Initial Evaluation Process:
- Financial Evaluation Panel
- Technical Evaluation Panel
- DNS Stability Panel
- String Similarity Panel
- Comparative Evaluation Panel
- What are the evaluation panels?
- Proposed Process for Geographic Name Applications
- Preparing Evaluators for the New gTLD Application Process
- ICANN new gTLD Program Latest News, www.gtld.com
- Google Loses Money Applying for Banned Domain Names, TheRegister.co.uk
- Did Google Withdraw Three New gTLD Applications, DomainIncite.com
- Told You So Four New gTLDs Given Geographic Surprise , DomainIncite.com Published & Retrieved 7 Mar 2013
- Closer Look New gTLD Evaluation Program, gTLD.com