INTA Bulletin

January 15, 2016 Vol. 71 No. 1 Back to Bulletin Main Page

ICANN Opens its Nomination Process for Key Leadership Roles

ICANN has opened its nomination process for a variety of leadership positions, including three seats on its Board of Directors. ICANN’s nomination committee (NomCom) invites interested individuals to submit applications and/or recommend candidates for three Board of Directors seats, one seat on the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Council, two seats on the At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) and one seat on the Country Code Name Supporting Organization (ccNSO). While most positions in ICANN are chosen by individual supporting organizations and stakeholder groups, there are a certain number of positions that are recommended by the NomCom. The positions chosen by the NomCom are part of the governance framework that guides ICANN’s policy development and technical coordination of the domain name system.

The Board is responsible for the governance of ICANN as a whole while the GNSO is the policymaking body. Policies are developed through the Policy Development Process (PDP) and are then forwarded to the ICANN Board for consideration. INTA is a member of the GNSO through its participation in the Intellectual Property Constituency (IPC). ALAC is responsible for considering and providing advice on ICANN initiatives as they relate to individual users. The ccNSO is the forum for managers of country code top-level domains like .us, .uk and .de. The ccNSO is critical to policy making as country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) are managed independently and not all have accepted ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). The UDRP is one of the most important enforcement mechanisms for trademark owners within the domain name system.

INTA Members on ICANN’s NomCom
INTA is privileged to have members Steven Coates (Twitter, USA) and Ellen Shankman (Ellen B. Shankman & Associates, Israel) serving on the NomCom. According to Ms. Shankman, “active participation on the NomCom is so important because it is the only place where intellectual property interests are on equal footing with all other constituencies.” Typically, intellectual property interests are weighted against many other interests in ICANN. The IPC has a small percentage of voting power. NomCom is the place where trademark owners can most effectively support potential leaders who have an open mind when it comes to protecting trademark rights within the domain name system.

Diversity Is Key
While candidates with an appreciation of the importance of intellectual property protection are important from INTA’s perspective, it is also crucial that we generate interest from and support candidates with diverse backgrounds. ICANN leadership positions must reflect the geographic diversity of the community. ICANN divides the world into five regions—North America, Europe, Asia/Australia/Pacific Islands, Africa and Latin America/Caribbean Islands.  ICANN’s bylaws require that “at all times each Geographic Region shall have one director and at all times no region shall have more than 5 directors.” Currently, the NomCom has a particular interest in filling spots for representatives from Latin America and Africa as these are typically underserved regions.  

ICANN is also looking for diversity in skill sets, and candidates are welcomed from outside the ICANN community. There is need for board members with financial expertise as well as technical and legal expertise. The most qualified candidates will have well-rounded resumes with a concentration in a specific area of interest. As ICANN transitions away from U.S. government oversight it is also “looking to shore up its board with those who have a deep understanding of governance with experienced leaders from the public and private sectors,” said Mr. Coates.

The Process
Candidates for ICANN positions may self-nominate or be nominated by others. There is an online form and all applications must include references. The application process is strictly confidential. We encourage all INTA members to look into this opportunity and help INTA to recommend and support qualified candidates.

The nomination period closes on March 20, 2016. For more information, visit ICANN’s website and contact Lori Schulman, Senior Director, Internet Policy at

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2016 International Trademark Association