Shortly after ICANN announced the new TLD applications list it became evident that some applicants may have made mistakes in their applications. For the last couple of months there has been a lot of chatter in the ICANN community about how ICANN would handle changes to the submitted applications.
Finally this morning ICANN has announced the criteria that they will use to handle modifications.
They’ve also made available an incredibly short document form that applicants need to complete when submitting their request.
The criteria are made up of 7 points, but it’s not very clear from the announcement how substantive the changes allowed will be. Put another way, it’s not clear if the “.dotafrica” applicant will be able to “correct” their application to be “.africa”.
Here are the criteria:
- Explanation – Is a reasonable explanation provided?
- Evidence that original submission was in error – Are there indicia to support an assertion that the change merely corrects an error?
- Other third parties affected – Does the change affect other third parties materially?
- Precedents – Is the change similar to others that have already been approved? Could the change lead others to request similar changes that could affect third parties or result in undesirable effects on the program?
- Fairness to applicants – Would allowing the change be construed as fair to the general community? Would disallowing the change be construed as unfair?
- Materiality – Would the change affect the evaluation score or require re-evaluation of some or all of the application? Would the change affect string contention or community priority consideration?
- Timing – Does the timing interfere with the evaluation process in some way? ICANN reserves the right to require a re-evaluation of the application in the event of a material change. This could involve additional fees or evaluation in a subsequent application round. (AGB §1.2.7.)
If ICANN allows applicants to change the string they’ve applied for I suspect they’ll end up in court, but a change of string arguably would not pass the criteria balance.
Like so many other things around the new TLD applications this will receive a lot of attention from ICANN’s most vocal critics and any perceived “hinky” behaviour will have a negative impact on the organisation.