New gTLD applicants have reportedly complained to ICANN about the unexpectedly high cost of dealing with objections.
The International Chamber of Commerce has apparently been quoting objectors prices as high as €150,000 for a three-person panel to handle a formal community objection.
At $195,000, that’s almost $10,000 more than the original ICANN application fee.
Because Community Objections run on a loser-pays basis, the stakes are high indeed. An applicant could lose its application, most of its application fee, and still have to pay the objector’s fees.
The complaints emerged during a session with ICANN new gTLD program head Christine Willett at a meeting in Brussels earlier this week, according to consultant and occasional DI contributor Stephane Van Gelder.
Writing on the NetNames blog yesterday, Van Gelder quoted Willett as saying:
We are aware that ICC fees are more than people were expecting. Some applicants have been quoted around 50,000 Euros for a one expert panel and 150,000 Euros for a three expert panel. Although in the same order of magnitude as the cost estimate listed in the applicant guidebook, they are still higher. In some cases, significantly higher. In fact, we had one applicant write to us last week saying that their quoted expert fee was more than the ICANN fees for submitting their application in the first place! So we have reached out to ICC and are hoping they can provide some rationale for the costs they are quoting.
The Applicant Guidebook does not detail the fees charged by dispute resolution providers, but materials provided by the ICC (pdf) say that its admin costs are €12,000 and €17,000 for a one-person and three-person panel respectively. The hourly rate for the panelists is €450, it says.
With a €150,000 total cost, back of the envelope doodling suggests that each panelist expects to spend around 100 hours working on each case — over two weeks at seven hours a day.
By contrast, the World Intellectual Property Organization’s fees for handling Legal Rights Objections with a three-person panel start at $23,000 ($3,000 for WIPO, $20,000 for the panelists).