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Company files for injunction against 189 new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, October 12, 2012, 21:48:52 (UTC), Domain Registries

Alternate root player Name.Space has sued ICANN for trademark infringement and anti-competitive behavior, saying “insiders” have conspired to keep it out of the new gTLD program.

If successful, the suit would prevent dozens of new gTLD applicants from having their applications approved.

The lawsuit, filed in California this week, follows a warning the company fired at ICANN this March.

While only ICANN is named as a defendant, the suit alleges that the new gTLD program was crafted by and is dominated by “ICANN insiders” and “industry titans”.

It wants an injunction preventing ICANN delegating any of the 189 gTLD strings that it claims it has rights to.

It also fingers several current and former ICANN directors, including current and former chairs Steve Crocker and Peter Dengate Thrush, over their alleged conflicts of interest.

Name.Space has been operating 482 diverse TLDs — such as .news, .sucks, and .mail — in a lightly used alternate root system since 1996.

Most people can’t access these zones and are unaware that they exist.

The company applied to have 118 of these strings added to the root in ICANN’s “proof of concept” gTLD expansion in 2000, when the application fee was $50,000, but was unsuccessful.

Now, the company claims the new gTLD program is “an attack on name.space’s business model and a mean by which to create and maintain market power in the TLD markets”.

The complaint (pdf) states:

Rather than adopting a procedure to account for the pending 2000 Application and facilitate the expansion of TLD providers in the DNS, ICANN has adopted a procedure so complex and expensive that it once again effectively prohibited newcomers from competing. It instead has permitted participation solely by ICANN insiders and industry titans.

If it had applied for all 118 again in this year’s round, it would have cost almost $22 million (though it would have qualified for an $83,000 discount on a single bid).

Name.Space is asking for damages and an injunction preventing ICANN from approving 189 gTLDs that match those it currently operates in its alternate root.

The full list of affected applications is attached to the complaint.

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Comments (10)

  1. @Domains says:

    It’s looking like the gtld’s could be tied up for a long time, with actions like this.

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      This particular action, even if it succeeds of getting injunction, can only affect specific new gTLDs, not the entire program. Those are the risky ones.

    • Martin says:

      Tied up?

      Lolasaurusrex!

      You dont think there is a thing called justice in America now do you?

      There is only flows of money and money makes things happen.

      We are in the new fascist system here.

  2. Tom G says:

    Really interesting read, was wondering when Mr. Garrin was going to pop up.

    I’d guess both ICANN and most of the applicants for these strings were aware of Name.Space.

    Should be interesting to see what the response is.

  3. Hellen Of Troy says:

    Whooop, here we go. Let the games begin!

    These guys will be fighting for the next decade over a bunch of silly gtld’s that, ultimately, no one will ever want.

  4. Domain Names says:

    I can see this opening up a can of worms as the new gTLDs are introduced.
    An introduction of new gTLDs to the extent that is going to happen is bound to get reaction of this sort given the high prices that are expected to be asked for some of the extensions.

  5. David Webb says:

    Can you really claim trademark interest over an ‘alternative zone’.

    Seems a bit silly to me. As Kevin has said – “Most people can’t access these zones and are unaware that they exist.”

    I think bringing legal action against ICANN with that in mind is … at best, hopeful … at worst, extremely damaging to their own efforts.

    • Stephanie says:

      I disagree with this statement. Just because name.space is a whole lot smaller than ICANN doesn’t mean that they should not have the same rights. If ICANN were to approve a .WEB for instance…. wouldn’t all of the .web domain names sold by name.space become inoperable????

  6. Rolf Larsen says:

    This will not go anywhere. But if name.space should win, I will set up a server in my garage and deploy an alternate root of 100 000 strings. Thereby having solved my pension plan..

  7. Krishnakumar KA says:

    It surprising few of the extensions are too lengthy. Generally we look for short domain extensions. .com will be hottest domain always. And that .web can create pulse, since 1994 they are trying.

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