The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has approved a broad registry agreement that moves the organization forward in its efforts to offer more than 1,000 new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) for sale.
The new registry agreement, announced Wednesday, includes a trademark clearinghouse where trademark holders can assert infringements by new websites in the new gTlDs. The agreement also creates a process for quick cancellations of infringing domain names, ICANN said in a press release.
The New gTLD Program Committee of the ICANN Board of Directors approved the registry agreement, ICANN said.
The new registry agreement also allows trademark holders to assert claims against a registry operators for domain name abuse if the operators have played an active role in the abuse.
ICANN has tentatively projected that the first new gTLDs could launch late this year, although some observers expect a more realistic date is in early 2014.
"New gTLDs are now on the home stretch," Chris Disspain, a member of ICANN's New gTLD Program Committee, said in a statement. "This new Registry Agreement means we've cleared one of the last hurdles for those gTLD applicants who are approved and eagerly nearing that point where their names will go online."
The approval gives participants in the gTLD process the tools needed for the program to move forward, added Cyrus Namazi, ICANN's vice president for DNS industry engagement
"I sense an added level of energy and a tinge of jubilation in our community," Namazi wrote in a blog post. "It's as though the summit is finally coming into view, after a long and at times exhausting voyage."
Many trademark holders have objected to the new gTLDs over concerns that it will be difficult to defend against infringement on many new websites in hundreds of new gTLDs.