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ICA worried ICANN will force URS on .net

Kevin Murphy, January 5, 2017, 13:56:51 (UTC), Domain Registries

The Internet Commerce Association has called for a “moratorium” on the Uniform Rapid Suspension policy being added to legacy gTLD contracts, months before Verisign’s .net contract is up for renewal.

In a blog post, ICA counsel Phil Corwin accused ICANN staff of making policy by the back door by compelling pre-2012 registries to adopt URS, despite a lack of ICANN community consensus policy.

In the last few years the registries for .jobs, .travel, .cat, .pro, .xxx and most recently .mobi have agreed to adopt many aspects of the 2012 Registry Agreement, which includes the URS, often in exchange for lower ICANN fees.

Corwin wrote:

the real test of [ICANN’s Global Domains Division’s] illicit strategy of incremental de facto policymaking will come later this year, when the .Net RA comes up for renewal. We have no idea whether Verisign will be seeking any substantial revisions to that RA that would provide GDD staff with substantial leverage to impose URS, nor do we know whether Verisign would be amenable to that tradeoff.

The .net RA is due to expire July 1 this year.

Verisign pays ICANN $0.75 for each .net domain registration, renewal and transfer. If that were to be reduced to the 2012 standard of $0.25, it would save Verisign at least $7.5 million a year.

The URS provides brand owners with a way to suspend trademark-infringing domains in clear-cut cases. It’s based on UDRP but is faster and cheaper and does not allow the brand owner to seize ownership of the domains.

ICA represents large domain speculators, most of which have their investments tied up in .com and .net domains. It’s complained about the addition of URS to other gTLDs but the complaints have largely fallen on deaf ears.

ICANN has said that it does not force URS on anyone, but that it takes the base new gTLD program RA as its starting point for bilateral negotiations with registries whose contracts are up for renewal.

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Comments (1)

  1. Philip Corwin says:

    Thanks for covering this, Kevin.

    Some indisputable facts:
    -.Net is one of the three original gTLDs (.Com and .Org being the others) and is the #2 gTLD in terms of total registrations
    -The RPM Review WG, of which I am one of 3 Co-Chairs (a role that is focused on administration, not policy determination) has been charged by the GNSO Council with determining whether the URS should become a consensus policy for legacy gTLDs
    -A new RA for .Net that include URS would negate the role of the ongoing PDP in regard to that important question for .Net

    So far as the $0.75 domain fee that Verisign now pays to ICANN, my understanding is that the price differential is due to a supposed development fund and that there is some question about how ICANN actually accounts for and allocates that money. Whatever the facts, the per domain fee in the renewal RA should be determined on its own merits and not by the unseemly tactic of GDD staff offering substantial monetary benefits in exchange for accepting the URS.

    Finally, in regard to your comment that “ICA represents large domain speculators”, the fact is that ICA has a diverse membership that includes large, medium, and small domain investors and developers as well as companies that provide them with ancillary services and provide platforms for a robust and competitive secondary domain sales market, plus registries and registrars. Our concern about current GDD practices is driven by a desire to protect the primacy of the ICANN community in making policy decisions, and not out of any concern that our members engage in intentional infringement, a practice that is condemned by our Code of Conduct.

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