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Ombudsman probing “late” new gTLD objections

Kevin Murphy, May 16, 2013, 10:21:20 (UTC), Domain Policy

ICANN’s Ombudsman Chris LaHatte has received complaints about some new gTLD objections that were apparently filed after the submission deadline but are being processed anyway.

Two companies have officially called on LaHatte to tell ICANN that “late complaints should not be received on the basis that the deadlines were well advertised and achievable”.

The issue seems to be that ICANN had set a deadline of 2359 UTC March 13 for objections to be filed, and some of them arrived slightly late.

The delays appear to have been a matter of mere minutes, and blamed on latency caused by heavy email attachments and other technical problems.

According to ICANN, the dispute resolution providers decided to give objectors a five-minute grace period, essentially extending the deadline from 2359 UTC to 0004 UTC the following day.

The recipients of these objections clearly now want to use this technicality to kill off the objections, avoiding the cost of having to defend themselves.

In a set of answers to questions posed verbally in Beijing last month, published last week (pdf), ICANN said:

ICANN is confident that the Dispute Resolution Service Providers are complying with the guidelines in the [Applicant Guidebook].

I don’t know which applications are affected by the issue, but the question at the Beijing public forum was posed by new gTLD consultant Jim Prendergast of the Galway Strategy Group.

He received applause, so I guess he wasn’t the only person in the room with an interest in the subject.

LaHatte, on his blog, is looking for feedback before making his decision.

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Comments (6)

  1. Andrew says:

    I always assumed that lawyers were the smart, studious kids in school. But seeing how they all file things at the last minute, I think they were actually the procrastinators who crammed to finish things the moment they were due.

  2. tom barrett says:

    I heard of one objection that was filed 15 seconds past the deadline.

  3. Jim Prendergast says:

    Kevin – This issue first came up in the NTAG meeting in Beijing where numerous applicants talked about the DRSPs accepting objections that were not in compliance with the filing requirements. I was surprised to hear that this was happening because the rules for filing objections, including but not limited to the 13 March 23:59:50 UTC deadline for sending the objections, were very clear and had been known for quite some time.

    I know of at least 2 cases where the objections were SENT after the close of the filing window so it’s not a matter of when they were received, the transit time or large email attachments. It’s about an objector failing to SEND the objection before the deadline. A clear violation of the procedures.

    According to what others in the NTAG meeting said, there appear to be other filing violations that were overlooked as well.

    During the most recent webinar, I asked Christine to clarify what she said in Beijing because at first she said that the DRSPs decided on their own how to handle. This was contradictory to correspondence some applicants received from one of the DRSPs stating that they had consulted with ICANN on this decision. The extent of ICANN’s involvement was unclear at best. What Christine said was:

    • We (ICANN and DRSPs) had an issue with objections being filed late.
    • DRSPs came to us and asked what they should do.
    • ICANN said that the DRSPs among themselves should decide what to do but whatever you come up with, be consistent across all providers.
    • Providers, on their own, decided to extend the previously communicated deadline AFTER THE FACT.
    • They presented this solution to ICANN and ICANN said “ok”

    After publicizing the 23:59:59 UTC deadline for months, ICANN allowed the DRSPs to come up with changes to the filing procedures after the filing window closed that have material impacts on an undetermined number of applicants.

    DRSPs did not do this on their own. They asked permission to do this and ICANN said yes. But for ICANN’s approval of this change, this change would have never happened.

    It does not bode well for the program going forward if ICANN and its contractors can make changes to well publicized policies and procedures in a unilateral fashion such as this.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Furthermore, the DRSPs were supposed to complete the administrative reviews and inform applicants of the results within 14 days of receipt of objections. This means applicants should have been notified of the results by 27 March. But apparently ICANN “agreed” to extend the deadline for the DRSPs for 7 days without notice to applicants.

    It took ICANN nearly a week to respond to an inquiry as follows:

    “The notice about the 7 day extension is on the Objection and Dispute Resolution page (http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/program-status/odr).
    Items are listed in chronological order with the newest articles at the bottom. The article you mentioned is dated 27 March.

    This article disappeared during the website refresh/update and was restored Friday [26 April] morning”.

    Even with the extended 7 days (until 3 April), I am aware of at least one DRSP that still did not meet the extended deadline.

  5. Chris LaHatte says:

    I should add that I have complaints that objections should not be accepted late, and that objections were not accepted but should have been. I hope the community does comment as fully as some already above.

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