Tag Archives: Uniform Rapid Suspension System

ICANN Not Currently Planning to Place URS Providers Under Contract by Philip Corwin, Internet Commerce Association

Internet Commerce Association logoOn Wednesday, October 3rd ICANN held a ninety-minute webinar on implementation of the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) rights protection mechanism (RPM) for new gTLDs.  More than a hundred individuals participated.

In response to a question posed by ICA Counsel Philip Corwin, ICANN executive Kurt Pritz stated that ICANN was looking to the current UDRP model, in which ICANN accredits arbitration providers to extinguish or transfer domains without placing them under a standard and enforceable contract – but that the contract issue could be discussed further during the URS implementation briefing session scheduled for Thursday, October 18th at the Toronto ICANN meeting. (Note: Under the current model an adverse URS decision would lead to domain suspension and non-resolution, but not to transfer).

Corwin pointed out the STI-RT consensus URS model unanimously adopted by the GNSO Council and the ICANN Board specifically recommended that URS providers be placed under contract. ICA has long taken the position that since ICANN’s only real power is derived from contract enforcement, that developing a standard contract is the only way to assure uniform administration of the URS and prevent forum shopping by complainants.

The webinar discussed a list of potential alterations of the URS model based upon the assumption that the current model cannot be offered at the desired price target of $300-$500 per filing. But, other than the perhaps self-serving feedback of existing UDRP providers, ICANN has no documentation or analysis justifying that assumption. The Request for Information (RFI) soliciting bids from potential URS providers was just issued on September 24th and bids will not be received late November.

As the webinar proceeded there appeared to be a consensus among participants that a new working group to consider modifications should not be convened until the actual price of providing decisions in the slam dunk, black-and-white instances of cybersquatting targeted by URS was tested in the marketplace by competitive bidding – and that, even then, it might be better to subsidize the cost at least in the short term rather than consider significant alterations

Of course, market testing will require responses from a broad range of potential providers. In this regard, Corwin asked whether ICANN was proactively making qualified arbitration providers beyond the ranks of existing UDRP providers aware of the RFI and encouraging their bids. ICANN executive Olaf Nordling responded “We will, we’ll try, but it’s not like we have a massive market”, a not altogether encouraging perspective. However, toward the end of the webinar Kurt Pritz stated that ICANN agreed with the need for publicizing the opportunity presented by the RFI and would work with its communications group toward that end.

The majority of the call discussed a number of possible URS changes under the broad categories of limiting panelist involvement, automation and simplification, financial subsidy, and an additional appeals mechanism via an ombudsman. However, other than a general agreement that webinar participants were unenthusiastic about forming a working group to consider changes before the RFI responses illuminated real world pricing, and that at least short-term financial subsidization was worth considering as an alternative to delay and controversy–inducing changes, no clear consensus emerged on any potential alterations of the current model.

ICA will continue to monitor this issue closely and plans to be an active participant in the Toronto URS session.

This article by Philip Corwin from the Internet Commerce Association was sourced with permission from:
internetcommerce.org/URS_contracts

ICANN:Uniform Rapid Suspension System for New gTLDs: ICANN Seeks Service Providers for Uniform Rapid Suspension

ICANN logoICANN is issuing today a Request for Information (RFI) to identify potential Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) Service Providers [PDF, 112 KB]. The URS is one of the mechanisms to address trademark protection concerns in the New gTLD Program. The URS is expected to provide trademark holders with a new, cost effective remedy in addition to those available under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) and applicable law. The primary purpose of the URS is to provide for rapid suspension of domain names on trademark infringement cases in which there is no genuine contestable issue as to the infringement and abuse that has taken place.

Candidates for operating the URS are expected to meet the requirements outlined in the RFI, which include, for example, a demonstrated understanding of the issues concerning global intellectual property rights and the Internet, proceedings in an expedited online context, dispute resolutions, UDRP proceedings, and serving as globally diverse and highly qualified neutral panelist. ICANN seeks candidates with a proven ability to manage and support processes in multiple languages, in addition to fulfillment of the technical requirements.

RFI activities schedule at a glance:

Request for information issued by ICANN 24 September 2012
Respondents’ Q&A – Teleconference On or about 23 October 2012
Written responses due 20 November 2012 (23:59 UTC)
Projected URS providers published Not later than 28 February 2013

The deadline for responses is 20 November 2012 at 23:59 UTC. Responses should be submitted to: urs-eoi@icann.org.

This ICANN announcement was sourced from:
www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-8-24sep12-en.htm

ICANN: Save the Date: Webinar on Uniform Rapid Suspension

ICANN logoICANN will host a webinar to on 3 October 2012 at 15:00 UTC to inform discussion in Toronto and continue development of the Uniform Rapid Suspension system. The URS is an important new rights protection mechanism in the New gTLD Program, intended to provide low-cost, rapid relief to trademark holders for the most clear-cut cases of infringement, and to complement the existing Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).

The webinar is open to any interested participants. This is part of a series of planned consultations on URS implementation. Early feedback from UDRP providers and others indicated that the cost of the URS procedure as written would be likely to exceed targets, driving additional feedback and discussion in the community.

During ICANN 44 in Prague, community stakeholders participated in a session on the URS. Participants discussed possible adaptations to the URS that could help satisfy the goals of an efficient, low-cost process, while retaining the registrant protections embedded in the process. Suggestions from participants included:

  • Limiting substantive review. For example, when there is no reply from the registrant, a decision could be taken by a case handler without the need for a panelist’s substantive review.
  • Limiting the scope of URS cases. For example, accepting only complaints related to trademarks registered in the Trademark Clearinghouse, in order to eliminate validation costs.
  • Subsidization of costs by ICANN. Retain the current procedure, but ICANN could subsidize service providers to achieve low URS fees and review the URS after 18 months.
  • Seeking volunteers or pro-bono assistance.
  • Automation or simplification. Use web interfaces and email where possible. Eliminate administrative burdens associated with loser pays, the requirement for multiple communication channels and appeals.

The upcoming webinar will set out to develop some of those proposals for possible implementation. A session during the ICANN meeting in Toronto is also planned to advance this work. See the meeting page for additional details.

To RSVP, please send an email to newgtldcommunications@icann.org. For those interested but not able to participate, a recording will be posted after the session.

This ICANN announcement was sourced from:
www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-6-24sep12-en.htm

Daily Wrap: Opposition To Google, Amazon gTLDs; Iranian Group Pressures ICANN/RIPE On Internet Disconnection; Canadian Lodges ICANN Cybersquatting Complaint & Olympic gTLD Protections

A number of those involved in the domain name industry, led by Michele Neylon of Ireland’s Blacknight, are planning to complain to ICANN about dozens of single-registrant new gTLD applications filed by Google and Amazon, reports Domain Incite.

The report notes the “signatories of a new letter are bothered by plans by these companies and others to hold dictionary word gTLDs for their own exclusive use, not allowing regular internet users to register domains.”

So far the letter has been signed by 13 people, many of whom work for registrars.

Another Domain Incite report notes “ICANN wants to try to put the unresolved issues surrounding the Uniform Rapid Suspension system to bed and is planning a meeting in a couple of weeks time to solicit community input.”

There have also been calls for Iran to be disconnected from the internet to impede its activities.

According to a New York Times report, “United Against Nuclear Iran, an advocacy group that helped pressure a global banking communications network to expel sanctioned Iranian banks, said it had undertaken a new effort to force the authorities who assign international Internet addresses to block sanctioned Iranian entities and persons from access to the Web.”

The group has sent letters to ICANN and RIPE NCC that claim the organisations “may be in violation of Iran sanctions and that by disconnecting Internet access, ‘the dictatorial regime of Iran would be severely impeded in pursuing its illegal and amoral activities.’”

ICANN did not respond to the Times’ requests for comment, but RIPE, based in Amsterdam, said in a statement on their website that “RIPE NCC is in contact with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure that we operate in accordance with Dutch law and all applicable international sanctions. Our advice from the Ministry has been that the RIPE NCC is not in violation of these sanctions. However, we will investigate in cases where new information is provided to us and we will ensure that changing circumstances do not place the RIPE NCC in violation of sanctions.”

And in another Domain Incite report, “ICANN and several domain name companies have been slapped with a bizarre, virtually incomprehensible anti-cybersquattng lawsuit in Virginia.”

“Canadian Graham Schreiber, registrant of landcruise.com, has beef primarily with CentralNic — the UK-based company that sells third-levels domains under us.com, uk.com and the like — and one of its customers.”

Schreiber has apparently “discovered that a British individual named Lorraine Dunabin — who has a UK trademark on the word Landcruise — had registered both landcruise.co.uk and landcruise.uk.com.”

And then “having failed to take the .co.uk using Nominet’s Dispute Resolution Service (repeatedly referred to in the complaint as UDRP), Schreiber has instead filed this lawsuit to accuse Dunabin of ‘Dilution, Infringement [and] Passing off’ by registering the .uk.com.”

In another Domain Incite report, “ICANN’s board of directors has set itself a deadline [of 31 January] to come to a decision on special new gTLD protections for the International Olympic Committee and Red Cross.”

URS Implementation Finally to Commence Under GNSO Direction by Philip Corwin, Internet Commerce Association

Philip Corwin imageFor more than a year ICA has been asking ICANN when it will commence with the task of implementing the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) policy for the new gTLD program as it currently stands in the Applicant Guidebook (AG). The URS is a required rights protection mechanism (RPM) that must be in place before any new gTLDs can open, and the current model balances trademark holder and registrant rights and is the result of a laborious two-year process resulting in recommendations that were unanimously adopted by the GNSO Council and subsequently by the ICANN Board. Each of our inquiries about the commencement of URS implementation have received the same general response of “soon”, but no perceptible progress had been made since the new gTLD program launched in the spring of 2011.

We have just learned that ICANN senior executive Kurt Pritz has sent a publicly available e-mail to GNSO Council Chairman Stephane Van Gelder advising him that URS implementation will finally begin in earnest within a few weeks. That exchange is below, and here are our key take-aways:

  • ICANN continues to assert that the present URS model does “not appear to meet cost requirements”. Yet, so far as know, and our knowledge includes a targeted document disclosure request filed on this and related subjects (see http://internetcommerce.org/WIPO2ICANN_URS_Summits), ICANN has no documented cost analysis proving this assertion and is instead relying on the feedback of the two principal UDRP providers, WIPO and NAF, who have their own separate rationales for making such an assertion. At the conference held yesterday in Washington held to discuss Melbourne IT’s HARM proposal (about which we shall post separately) there was a fairly broad consensus that ICANN should publish an RFP for the URS and solicit bids from a broad range of credible arbitration providers beyond the thin ranks of WIPO and NAF, based on the common sense belief that a URS focused on slam dunk infringement should not require a great deal of expert time or associated cost (if it takes more than 15 minutes to render a decision, it’s not a black-and-white case and belongs in a UDRP proceeding). There was also considerable support for the notion that, if the price target of $300-$500 simply cannot be met, ICANN should consider at least short-term subsidization by using some of the $350 million it has collected in new gTLD application fees. ICA believes it is premature to “flesh out some of those [alternative] models for possible implementation”, and thereby contemplate significant revisions of URS, until we have market testing of the true cost of implementing the present model. Before there is any consideration of “potential solutions”, let’s determine if there really is a cost problem that needs to be solved.
  • A meeting on URS implementation, possibly in the form of a webinar, will be scheduled for the first week of October. We are unsure who will be invited to speak at the webinar and whether it will include adequate representation of the registrant community, both commercial and non-commercial. Let’s wait and see.
  • A second meeting will be scheduled during the upcoming ICANN meeting in Toronto. We believe it’s is essential that this critical meeting result in a credible path to timely implementation.
  • ICANN has stated that “the meetings we are having are open to all”. This is consistent with the open and transparent approach to URS implementation that ICA has consistently advocated, and we intend to be intimately involved.
  • ICANN understands the key role played by the GNSO Council in developing and approving the present model and “that the GNSO leadership might want to conduct the URS discussions in a certain way”, and is willing to “work in whichever way the GNSO wishes to proceed”. From our viewpoint, this position is an extremely positive development because it respects the key policymaking role that the Council plays for gTLDs, puts the ICANN community as represented by the Council rather than ICANN staff in the driver’s seat on designing and managing the implementation process, and is a far better approach than the “Summit” concept contemplated earlier this year. It also undercuts potential efforts by some brand interests to try to circumvent the Council through direct lobbying of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) and, through it, the ICANN Board.
  • ICANN aims to “seek to meet the cost and timeliness goals for which the URS was designed” and to balance that with a commitment to “seek to ensure that registrants enjoy the protections written into the current model”. Assuring that registrants enjoy the essential due process rights written into the current policy, and that they are not diluted in pursuit of complainant cost reduction, will be ICA’s foremost goal as this discussion ensues.

All in all, these are overdue but overall positive developments. Again, it’s our belief that any substantial alteration of the URS based on cost goals should not even be considered until we have some accurate, market-tested idea of the cost of implementing the current model — and that does not yet exist. Even then, we are wary of reopening this carefully constructed RPM because some of the ideas floating around for reducing cost could substantially reduce registrant rights in new gTLDs and convert the URS from a narrow supplement to the UDRP into a cut-price, rights-gutting alternative to it. That’s an unacceptable bait-and-switch.

But ICANN’s recognition of the central role to be played by the GNSO Council in considering any alteration is positive. It is critically important that whatever is done on URS implementation get off to a sound launch in Toronto, because there is an unusually long half-year gap between it and the next, April 2013 ICANN meeting in Beijing. A botched process could lead to further pushback in the launch date for new gTLDs, while one that results in evisceration of registrant rights could fatally undermine their prospects for success.

The e-mail exchange follows:

From:owner-council@gnso.icann.org[mailto:owner-council@gnso.icann.org] On Behalf Of Stéphane Van Gelder
Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 5:08 AM
To: Kurt Pritz
Cc: GNSO Council List
Subject: [council] Re: Uniform Rapid Suspension Discussion

Thanks Kurt. I am copying the Council for their information.

The Council will no doubt follow-up on this in the near future.

Best,

Stéphane Van Gelder
Directeur Général / General manager
INDOM NetNames France

—————-
Registry Relations and Strategy Director

NetNames

T: +33 (0)1 48 01 83 51
F: +33 (0)1 48 01 83 61

Le 18 sept. 2012 à 22:09, Kurt Pritz a écrit :


Hi Stephane:

I am writing to let you know that we are planning a set of discussions on Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) implementation in the near future and seek the input of GNSO leadership. As you know, a meeting in Prague we indicated that URS, as currently designed, did not appear to meet cost requirements. In Prague, contributors in the meeting described briefly several potential solutions. In the next set of meetings, we want to flesh out some of those models for possible implementation. We want to have one meeting in about two weeks (probably a webinar type of format with a possibility for some face-to-face interaction), and then we have a meeting in Toronto is scheduled. The first meeting will be announced shortly.

I am writing you because some of the proposed solutions, while feasible, do not match up with the specific conclusions of the STI team when it did its work. We recognize the role of the GNSO in those discussions. While the meetings we are having are open to all, we understand that the GNSO leadership might want to conduct the URS discussions in a certain way. Having the twin goals of developing a solution in time for use by new gTLDs and ensuring that all those interested can participate in the discussion, we can work in whichever way the GNSO wishes to proceed. (Of course, we also seek to meet the cost and timeliness goals for which the URS was designed and also seek to ensure that registrants enjoy the protections written into the current model by the IRT and STI.)The output of the next meetings can inform GNSO discussion or we can carry on in a way acceptable to the GNSO.

I am also copying Olivier as ALAC members participated in the STI.

I hope you find this helpful. Contact me anytime with questions.

Regards,

Kurt

This article by the Internet Commerce Association’s Philip Corwin was sourced with permission from:
internetcommerce.org/URS_Implementation

Judiciary Committee Leaders Ask ICANN for Further Details on New gTLD Program by Philip Corwin

Internet Commerce Association logo

The Chairmen and ranking minority members of the U.S. Senate and House Judiciary Committees have sent a letter to ICANN requesting “further details about the steps ICANN is taking to fulfill its commitment to ensure that the New gTLD process will provide “a secure, stable marketplace” with input from “the community as a whole.” The August 7th letter and an accompanying press release can be found at www.leahy.senate.gov/press/expansion-of-internet-domain-names-protects-consumers-and-trademark-holders.

The letter raises a series of questions about ICANN efforts to raise public awareness of the new gTLD program and the availability of the public comment period, as well as the possibility of extending that period [Note: that comment period is currently scheduled to close on August 12th, but during a webinar conducted this morning ICANN staff indicated that requests for a 30-day extension received from such groups as the Intellectual Property and Business constituencies will likely be granted]. It also inquiries about the specific role of the Independent Objector.

The letter also reiterates concerns “that inadequate protections may provide increased opportunities for cyber-squatters and other rogue actors to mislead consumers by registering fraudulent websites that incorporate familiar trademarks” and suggests that the Trademark Clearinghouse (TCM) be retained as a permanent protective feature rather than just be operational for the first 60 days of a new gTLD’s operation — and that consideration be given to having the TMC warning system go beyond exact matches by “allowing trademark holders to sign up for Clearinghouse notices of website registrations that contain their trademark in varied form (such as the trademark plus a generic term)”. It is not clear from the letter whether the signatories believe that registrants should automatically receive a warning of potential infringement when a domain combines a generic and trademarked term (which may often be a legitimate, non-infringing use), much less whether the reference to “varied form” also involves typographical variations and, if so, to what degree.

Other issues raised in the letter include the timing of ICANN post-launch review, registry pricing practices for “sunrise” registrations, to what extent ICANN will utilize some of the $350 million in new gTLD application fees for enhanced contractual compliance, and the status of negotiations to revise the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA). The letter makes no mention the other required rights protection mechanism, Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS).

While not setting a deadline for response, we imagine that ICANN will reply to this inquiry in fairly expedited fashion. With the completion of new gTLD initial evaluations not expected until mid-2013, this inquiry might well be a precursor to additional oversight hearings being held in advance of the launch of the first new gTLDs, which ICANN currently projects taking place in the first quarter of 2014.

This article by Philip Corwin from the Internet Commerce Association was sourced with permission and originally published at internetcommerce.org/Judiciary_Letter_New_gTLDs.

ICANN Board Votes to Defer .XXX, Appeases Trademark Holders, in Nairobi Meeting

ICANN concluded its week-long meeting in Nairobi on Friday 12 March with a number of notable and controversial decisions. The board meeting, the traditional final happening at its meetings held three times per year around the world, voted to defer a decision on the .XXX Top Level Domain and to scrap the Expressions of Interest Proposal for new generic TLD applicants. However they did vote to create a Trademark Clearinghouse and Uniform Rapid Suspension System to protect trademark holder’s rights in new gTLDs. But the decisions from the ICANN board were given a poor mark by Milton Mueller writing on the Internet Governance blog.

.XXX
The proposal for the .XXX TLD, for adult websites, has been resurrected following an independent review that was concluded in February. The review found the decision to reject .XXX was unfair and should be reconsidered. The .XXX proposal has been hanging around ICANN for some years now, having first been approved in 2005 and then rejected two years later.

Then in 2008 ICM Registry, the .XXX applicant, filed a complaint with the Independent Review Panel (IRT). The IRT, independent of ICANN but recognised in its bylaws, concluded in its report that the decision to reject .XXX was unfair and should be reconsidered.

At the board meeting on Friday the board directed ICANN’s CEO and general counsel to finalise a report of possible process options for further consideration. This report is to be made available with options for public comment within 14 days to enable the community to provide input on the board processes.

The report will be posted for public comment and then further consideration by the board at its 38th meeting in Brussels in late June.

Expressions of Interest Process for New GTLDs
The ICANN board, in a surprise decision to many, decided to cancel the idea of calling for Expressions of Interest (EoI) for new generic Top Level Domains. It was expected ICANN would call for EoIs to gauge support for new gTLDs. This followed the call for ICANN staff to present options for the potential impact of such a process at the previous meeting in Seoul, South Korea, in December 2009.

ICANN decided that the potential benefits of proceeding with an EOI were outweighed by the costs of potential delay to the new gTLD programme.

Commenting on the decision, Rod Beckstrom, ICANN’s CEO and president, said the EoI process would have “added another step, another process, another set of community discussions and debate.”

The implementation process for new gTLDs is taking much longer than anticipated with dates for when ICANN expected to be taking applications being pushed back several times. This has created problems for would-be applicants.

Also on new gTLDs, the board decided that there will be no co-ownership of registries and those acting as registrars for any new gTLD.

Trademark Clearinghouse and Uniform Rapid Suspension System
In another development linked to new gTLDs, ICANN has agreed to establish a Trademark Clearinghouse and a Uniform Rapid Suspension System. The Trademark Clearinghouse is to be a means of protecting the rights of trademark holders in any new gTLDs that are created while the Uniform Rapid Suspension System is to be the process for suspending domain name registrations considered to be trademark abuses in new gTLDs.

“In forming this trademark clearinghouse, we’ve listened to our community about providing trademark protection,” said Peter Dengate Thrush, ICANN’s Chairman of the Board. “We’ve also adopted an extremely rapid process by which people or organisations can challenge trademark infringement.”

The board has asked for final versions to be developed for inclusion in version four of the Draft Applicant Guidebook.

Internationalised Domain Names and gTLDs
ICANN is backing away from the rule that any new gTLD string has to be at least three characters, voting in its board meeting to reconsider the requirement following public comment that this would limit the utility of Internationalised Domain Names (IDN) gTLDs in some regions of the world. A revised policy is expected in the next draft (version four) of the Draft Applicant Guidebook.

DNS Security
Earlier in the week at the meeting, the ICANN’s CEO and president, Rod Beckstrom made some controversial comments on DNS security.

“The domain name system is under attack today as it has never been before. I have personally consulted with over 20 CEOs of the top registries and the top registrars globally, all of whom are seeing increasing attacks and complexity of attacks and who are extremely concerned,” Beckstrom said.

However Chris Disspain, chairman of the Country Code Name Supporting Organization (ccNSO) council, was none too impressed. Disspain called Beckstrom’s comments “inflammatory”, saying:
“Your inflammatory comments to governmental representatives regarding – in your view – the precarious state of the security of the DNS, have the potential to undermine the effective and productive relationships established under ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model.

“This could cause great concern among governments regarding how elements of critical internet resources are operated and managed in their countries.

“We suggest that ICANN work with all relevant internal and external stakeholders to develop a clear analysis of the current mechanisms in place to ensure the ongoing security of the DNS. As a first step, we urge you to share with us and other stakeholders the underlying facts or studies that originally led you to make your statements.”

An interview with Rod Beckstrom on the board decisions is available from:
link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid17699847001?bctid=71571577001

Writing on the Internet Governance blog, Milton Mueller says he would give ICANN “an A for effort. But on substance? Give them an F. On the .xxx issue, the Board chose to ignore its independent review panel and refused to rectify what was officially determined to be unfair and discriminatory treatment. On the vertical integration issue, it issued a needlessly biased and poorly worded resolution that was an attempt to clarify things but probably did the opposite. True to form, the board devoted most of its attention to bending over backwards to accommodate trademark interests at the expense of market diversity, as most of the resolutions passed refer to various aspects of how to protect trademark owners from the horrifying prospect of letting people register names under new TLDs. And in response to complaints that it had set the fee bar for new gTLDs too high, the Board issued a vague instruction to its Advisory Committees and Supporting Organizations ‘develop a sustainable approach to providing support to applicants requiring assistance in applying for and operating new gTLDs.'”

For more of Milton Mueller’s analysis of the outcomes of the ICANN meeting in Nairobi, check out:
blog.internetgovernance.org/blog/_archives/2010/3/12/4478733.html