More than 1,200 companies have applied for more than 2,000 new generic top-level domain names (gTLDs) to compete with .com, .org, etc.1 Might any of those new gTLDs infringe your intellectual property rights? You can find out soon enough.
On June 13, 2012, the public portions of all new gTLD applications, including applicant information and character strings will become available. If you believe that an applied-for character string infringes your intellectual property rights you may object by submitting either informal comments and/or formal objections.
From June 13 to August 12, anyone may submit comments regarding a new gTLD application, which will be considered by independent evaluation panels during the application review process. This may be a low-cost way to convince ICANN that a particular new gTLD should not be awarded.
Interested parties meeting certain criteria may also submit formal objections to particular new gTLD applications. The formal objection period runs from June 13, 2012 until approximately January 13, 2013, concurrent with ICANN's initial evaluation period. If the initial evaluation of a particular application is concluded prior to December 1, parties should still have at least two weeks to file a formal objection. Whether to object early or wait for ICANN's initial evaluation to conclude is an open question. Expert panelists will review the formal objections and any arguments made by the applicants and issue rulings. Filing a formal objection is a much more complex and expensive undertaking compared with making an informal comment, with a minimum filing fee of $10,000 (with $8,000 refunded if the trademark owner prevails), which does not include the significant expense of preparing a thorough complaint. Any new gTLDs surviving the evaluation and objection period must be operational within one year.