[bc-gnso] FW: ICA Comments on Final Applicant Guidebook
- To: "bc-gnso@xxxxxxxxx" <bc-gnso@xxxxxxxxx>
- Subject: [bc-gnso] FW: ICA Comments on Final Applicant Guidebook
- From: Phil Corwin <pcorwin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 9 Dec 2010 17:29:23 +0000
Fellow BC members, these were just filed--FYI--
BUTERA & ANDREWS
Attorneys at Law
1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004-1701
Philip S. Corwin, Partner
December 9, 2010
By E-Mail to 5gtld-guide@xxxxxxxxx<mailto:5gtld-guide@xxxxxxxxx>
Board of Directors
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330
Marina del Rey, CA 90292-6601
Re: Proposed Final New gTLD Applicant Guidebook
Dear Members of the ICANN Board:
This comment letter is submitted by the Internet Commerce Association (ICA) in
regard to ICANN’s November 12th notice establishing a period for public
comments on the Proposed Final New gTLD Applicant Guidebook. This letter
supplements all of our comments on prior versions of the proposed Guidebook,
the most recent of which was filed on July 21, 2010.
ICA is a not-for-profit trade association representing the domain name
industry, including domain registrants, domain marketplaces, and direct search
providers. Its membership is composed of domain name registrants who invest in
domain names (DNs) and develop the associated websites, as well as the
companies that serve them. Professional domain name registrants are a major
source of the fees that support registrars, registries, and ICANN itself.
* The inflexible “three strikes” UDRP loss applicant disqualification
criteria must be adjusted to take into account the size of an applicant’s
domain portfolio as well as their overall history of UDRP arbitrations.
* A UDRP loss that has been reversed upon appeal to a court of proper
jurisdiction should not be counted against an applicant.
* Applicants that have been found to have engaged in three or more
instances of attempted reverse domain name hijacking should be barred from
participation in the new gTLD program.
* The STI-RT’s recommendation for a 20-day URS response time should be
restored or, failing that, extensive guidance should be provided regarding the
grounds for which a 7-day “good faith” request for response extension will be
Section 1.2.1 of the Final AG now states in part:
ICANN will perform background screening in only two areas: (1) General business
diligence and criminal history; and (2) History of cybersquatting behavior. The
criteria used for criminal history are aligned with the “crimes of trust”
standard sometimes used in the banking and finance industry…
Applicants with confirmed convictions of the types listed in (a) – (k) below
will be automatically disqualified from the program.
Circumstances where ICANN may deny an otherwise qualified application include,
but are not limited to instances where the applicant, or any individual named
in the application: …
k. has been involved in of a pattern of decisions indicating that the applicant
or individual named in the application was engaged in cybersquatting as defined
in the UDRP, ACPA, or other equivalent legislation. Three or more such
decisions with one occurring in the last four years will generally be
considered to constitute a pattern.
While we support the general policy that repeat intentional infringers of
intellectual property rights should not be eligible to apply for new gTLDs, we
strongly believe that the approach taken by the Final AG in this regard in
unreasonably inflexible and fails to even take the entire UDRP process into
account. It also fails to contain equivalent sanctions for complainants who
abuse the UDRP process.
First off, the loss of a UDRP arbitration is not equivalent to a “conviction”,
nor is the UDRP “legislation” adjudicated by a reliable and predictable court
system. The shortcomings of the current UDRP system were recently noted by
ICANN’s Business Constituency (comment at
http://forum.icann.org/lists/acdr-proposal/msg00004.html ), citing “increasing
concerns about the lack of adequate procedural and substantive consistency in
the UDRP process” as its rationale for opposing accreditation of any new UDRP
providers until ICANN enters into a standard agreement with all UDRP providers
“as that is the only means of furthering the goal that UDRP decisions are
consistent within and among UDRP providers”. The inflexible “three strikes”
rule proposed in the Final AG fails to take into account the gross shortcomings
in the present administration of the UDRP.
Second, this proposal completely ignores our July 2010 suggestion that the
treatment of UDRP losses as evidence of “cybersquatting” behavior should be
done on a sliding scale basis that takes portfolio size into account. Clearly,
while the loss of three UDRPs against a portfolio of 300 domains (one out of
one hundred) might constitute rebuttable but not conclusive evidence of
intentional infringement (given the lack of consistency in UDRP
administration), three losses against a portfolio of 300,000 names (one out of
one hundred thousand) constitutes no such evidence. Many individual and
corporate ICA members own or manage domain portfolios of this size or greater,
and barring them and their considerable financial resources as potential new
gTLD investors on the basis of a rigid three strikes rule based upon a very
imperfect and unpredictable UDRP arbitration process is absurd.
Third, the proposal fails to take into account a registrant’s overall historic
experience of UDRP decisions. The hypothetical owner of a portfolio with
300,000 domains could easily have been the target of 30 UDRP proceedings in a
decade (averaging 3 per year), won 27 (90%) and lost 3 (10%), and subsequently
had the 3 losses reversed in judicial appeals. Yet this registrant with an
overall UDRP acquittal rate of 90%, and 100% acquittal rate following reversal
on appeal, would nonetheless be unfairly branded a “cybersquatter” ineligible
to invest in a new gTLD venture.
Finally, the proposed eligibility screen gives no consideration whatsoever to
the only appeals mechanism now available under the UDRP – which is appeal under
the national law of the registrant. This leads to the equally absurd potential
situation where a domain registrant with a portfolio of 300,000 domains may
have lost three UDRP arbitrations in the past decade, one of them in the past
four years; may have appealed each of those losses under applicable national
law and won reversals in all three cases – and yet would still be barred from
eligibility as a gTLD applicant!
In addition to these gross shortcomings, the proposed treatment of
cybersquatting is also unbalanced in that there is no prohibition against
complainants who regularly abuse the UDRP process from being eligible to apply
for a new gTLD. Surely such repeated abuse of process in an attempt to
illicitly obtain a legitimately registered and used domain – to steal it, in
effect –and should be regarded as a “crime of trust” bearing upon eligibility.
We therefore propose that the background check criteria be further amended to
bar any individual or business entity that has been found in three or more UDRP
decisions to have engaged in attempted reverse domain name hijacking to be
declared ineligible to be a new gTLD applicant.
URS Response Time
Section 5.1 of the proposed procedures for Uniform rapid Suspension (URS)
shortens the time for a registrant to respond to the filing of a URS complaint
against a domain name from 20 to 14 days. Section 5.3 states:
Upon request by the Registrant, a limited extension of time to respond may be
granted by the URS Provider if there is a good faith basis for doing so. In no
event shall the extension be for more than seven (7) calendar days.
This revision implements Section 2.6 of the ICANN Board’s September 25th
Resolution (http://icann.org/en/minutes/resolutions-25sep10-en.htm ), which
neither provided any rationale for this decision nor any greater explanation as
to what might constitute acceptable “good faith” justifying such an extension:
URS timing: In response to public comment, change the time to respond to a
complaint from 20 days to 14 days, with one opportunity for an extension of
seven days if there is a good faith basis for such an extension.
We are dismayed that the Board chose to revise this element of the URS. The
twenty day response period was arrived at after long and careful consideration
by the Special Trademark Issues-Review Team (STI-RT) and was based upon its
conclusion that this amount of time was necessary to assure that a registrant
would indeed receive notice of alleged abuse and would have adequate time to
prepare a meaningful response. The STI-RT’s recommendations were unanimously
adopted by the GNSO and subsequently by the ICANN Board. If the Board’s
intervention on this matter in September was meant to win acceptance from
trademark interests for the Spring 2011 launch of the new gTLD program their
verbal comments in Cartagena have shown that expectation to be largely
We are further dismayed that the Board did not explain its reasons for this
surgical strike or give any indication as to what types of circumstances would
give rise to the granting of a 7-day extension. A 7-day extension in no way
addresses the variety of circumstances in which a registrant may not receive
notice of the complaint within the initial 14 days after its filing and indeed
may first learn of it when his domain ceases to function, and we therefore
believe that the Final AG should restore the full twenty day response time
recommended by the STI-RT.
Recognizing that reversal of the Board’s decision on this matter may not be
attainable, we request that ICANN provide greater guidance as to what type of
circumstances may provide the basis for a “good faith” seven day extension of a
registrant’s response time. We do not seek rigid or inflexible rules but rather
illustrative examples and general principles so that URS examiners make
decisions on such requests within a guiding framework rather than on an ad hoc
and unpredictable individual basis.
Finally, we would note that the STI-RT unanimously recommended that URS
providers be placed under contract, but that the Final AG still omits that
critical requirement and therefore threatens to carry the inconsistency issues
that plague the UDRP, noted above, into this new rights protection mechanism.
Thank you for your consideration of our views on this matter. We hope to see
responsive changes made in response to them before the Applicant Guidebook is
finalized and the new gTLD program is launched.
Philip S. Corwin
Counsel, Internet Commerce Association
Philip S. Corwin
Butera & Andrews
1301 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20004
"Luck is the residue of design." -- Branch Rickey