ICANN recently published the rules for the “Last Resort” auctions that will determine the winners of the New gTLD strings that have multiple bidders. Some parties have avoided the ICANN-led auction process this by agreeing to private auctions. The Last Resort auction has a variety of rules that are pretty complicated and confusing at parts, but at its core it’s a highest bidder takes all model that will provide a tremendous advantage to the deep-pocketed applicants who are participating. The ICANN website lists 207 still pending contention sets that could be subject to a Last Resort auction, such as .APP, .HOME, .INC, .BLOG, MUSIC, .SHOP, .STORE, .NEWS, .WEB, .CLOUD and .LLC all have 7 or more parties bidding for them. Further, each of these registries has Google, Amazon, or both in the bidding group. Some of these registries also have “community” based applications among the bidders, such as .MUSIC and .LLC. While these applicants can try and navigate the Community Priority process

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to win the registry outright, the criteria for this is extremely difficult. If they can’t, they will be left to compete with the likes of Google and Amazon at auction. Yikes! Recently, .DotGreen withdrew its application for the .GREEN registry after years of work, citing the fact that it’s community based model and “eco/green” approach simply did not give it enough financial backing to compete at auction:

“We believe an auction is counterproductive to the collaborative nature of the green movement. Awarding .green management to the highest bidder, disregarding community support, collaborative partnerships, and business practices subverts the meaning and interests of the green movement, the Internet user public, and the ICANN multi-stakeholder model. This auction procedure undermines DotGreen’s long history in the green community, and it negates the authenticity of DotGreen’s application. A single string applicant such as DotGreen may also find financial and timeline requirements more challenging compared to portfolio application peers.”

In all events, the auction system is likely to be a considerable sticking point for many applicants (and would-be applicants), and ICANN may have to evaluate whether the system advances its stated goals of increasing diversity on the web and having new registry’s that reflect stakeholder communities...