ICANN has just opened a comment period to hear from people and companies concerned about defensive applications for new gTLD’s.

“”Public comment is requested as to why there may be a perceived need for defensive new gTLD applications and steps that could be considered to help alleviate this concern.””

The comment period closes  on February 27th.

In announcing the opening of the comment period ICANN said:

“”The New gTLD Program was designed to increase competition and choice by introducing new gTLDs into the Internet’s addressing system. The Application Submission period for gTLD applications opened on 12 January 2012 and will close on 12 April 2012.

“”During the development of the New gTLD Program, some trademark holders indicated that they were concerned about the perceived need for defensive applications for top-level names, i.e., names applied for as registries in the new gTLD program.””

“”This concern prompted discussion and consideration of several mechanisms during the development of the policy for the introduction of new gTLDs. Community discussions during the implementation of the program yielded a suite of additional trademark protections for new gTLDs. These are the rights protection mechanisms that were developed over a period of years by a set of intellectual property experts convened by ICANN and later enhanced by governments that participate through ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee.””

“””Despite the adoption of these enhanced protections, some stakeholders recently indicated that they are concerned about the perceived need for defensive applications at the top level and encouraged ICANN to ensure that the program was launched in a manner that protects intellectual property rights.””

“”This announcement briefly reviews the existing protections against infringement of rights at the top level.””

“”Public comment is requested as to why there may be a perceived need for defensive new gTLD applications and steps that could be considered to help alleviate this concern.””

Top-Level Protection: The Objection and Dispute Resolution Process

“”The New gTLD Program implements consensus policy advice that new gTLDs must not infringe the existing legal rights of others. Based on input received during public consultations and extensive research, a formal objection and dispute resolution process was developed for the protection of certain legal rights. This process allows a party to challenge a gTLD application on the grounds that it infringes on the party’s established legal rights (e.g., trademark rights). The program has established standing requirements and other criteria that must be met in order to prevail in a Legal Rights Objection and has designated the Arbitration and Mediation Center of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as the dispute resolution service provider.””

“”In addition to the objection process, there is also a formal process for governments, through ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee, to provide advice to the ICANN Board in relation to the approval of an application.…