New gTLD Objection
The New gTLD Objection and Dispute Resolution process was laid out in the Applicant Guidebook of the New gTLD Program. The process gives business, applicants, organizations, and individuals a way to give objection arguments as to why a certain TLD should not be delegated. These formal objections will be arbitrated by an assigned organization, called a Dispute Resolution Service Provider (DRSP). A panelist from the DRSP hears written arguments from the objector and the applicant, and determines if the application prevails or the objector prevails.
The filing period for objections to New gTLDs began 13 June 2012 and lasted until 13 March 2013. The received objections then moved to the dispute resolutions process. ICANN estimated that it would take 5 months to decide most objections. 262 formal objections were filed (taken into account string applications that withdrew, leaving the objection unnecessary) during the filing period. As of December 2013, more than 200 objections had been decided.
Filing a formal objection costs between $5,000-$13,000 per party depending on the DRSP. Some of the fees are born solely on the objector and are non-refundable. Other fees are paid by both the objector and the applicant, and are reimbursed to the party that prevails in the case.
Types of Formal Objections
- String Confusion Objections
Main article: String Confusion Objection
Objector argues that Internet users will be confused between the applied-for string and an existing TLD, because the strings appear to be similar or share letters or meaning.
- Legal Right Objections
The objector argues that an applied-for string violates the legal rights of the objector.
- Limited Public Interest Objections
The objector argues that the applied-for string goes against accepted legal or moral norms recognized under international law.
- Community Objections
Main article: Community Objection
Objector argues that a substantial portion of the community that the applied-for string targets is against the delegation of that string.
Dispute Resolution Service Providers
There are three DRSPs that were selected to determine objections.
- The International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR), a division of the AAA, will decide all String Confusion Objections.
- The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) will decide all Legal Rights Objections.
- The International Center of Expertise of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) will decide Limited Public Interest and Community Objections.
The fees required to file an objection vary on the objection and the organization that is collecting the fees.
The ICDR charges a $2,750 filing fee to the objector and a $3,000 fee to the objector and the applicant. The latter fee is refunded to the prevailing party. There is also a $6,000 fee for each party for cases that require a hearing instead of just a neutral arbitrator. Details of the ICDR's fees for New gTLD Objections are laid out in this document:
The WIPO charges a flat $10,000 fee to each party, some amount of which is then refunded to the prevailing party depending on the arbitration proceedings. A Single-Expert Panel or a Three-Expert Panel may be selected, requiring $10,000 and $23,000 in fees respectively. Discounts are given when one objector submits objections to different strings or when one string has multiple objections decided in one proceeding. Details of WIPO's fees can be found here:
The ICC charges a non-refundable €5,000 to the applicant and the objector, and the expert's hourly rate is €450. Both parties also pay for administrative expenses, which will not exceed €12,000 for a single expert or €17,000 for a three-expert panel. Applicants originally reported to ICANN that the ICC quoted some applicants at €50,000 for a single expert and €150,000 for a three-expert panel. ICANN promised to discuss the fees with ICC and they were ultimately reduced. Details of the ICC's fee can be found here:
Public Comments vs. Formal Objections
The New gTLD Program includes a formal Objections process as well as a public comments process. Anyone can submit a public comment at no charge in the Applicant Comments Forum. Frequently, these comments are objecting to individual applications or supporting applicant strings. The forum is accepting comments indefinitely, but comments received before 26 September 2012 would be forwarded to the attention of the Initial Evaluation review panel in charge of reviewing the application that the comment pertains to.