“Please don’t sue us!”
That’s the message some are taking away from the latest round of published correspondence between lawyers representing ICANN and .jobs registry Employ Media.
Now ICANN has asked the registry’s executives to return to the negotiating table, apparently to reduce the risk of having to spend millions of dollars on lawyering.
In a letter (pdf) to Employ Media’s attorneys, ICANN outside counsel Eric Enson of Jones Day said that ICANN wishes to avoid “costly legal fees associated with arbitration or litigation”:
I again request a meeting among the business persons involved in this matter to discuss potential resolutions before spending more of ICANN’s funding on unnecessary litigation.
The latest round of published correspondence, like the last one, and the one before that, seems to contain a fair bit of legal posturing, with both sides accusing the other of conducting negotiations in “bad faith” for various reasons.
Filing the arbitration notice with the ICC might turn out to be a smart move by Employ Media, knowing how risk-averse and cash-conscious ICANN is.
ICANN is still smarting from the last time it headed to arbitration, for its Independent Review Panel over ICM Registry’s .xxx top-level domain.
ICANN lost that case in February 2010, and had to cover the panel’s almost $500,000 in costs, as well as its own legal fees. The overall price tag is believed to have comfortably made it into seven figures.
But that may well turn out to be small beer compared to the price of losing arbitration against the .jobs registry.
Unlike the IRP, in which both parties pay their own lawyers no matter who wins, Employ Media’s contract states that the losing party in arbitration must pay the legal fees of the winner.
To go up against .jobs at the ICC and lose could hit ICANN’s coffers harder than the .xxx dispute, in other words. That’s not to say it would lose, but with matters as complex as this there is that risk.
It’s worth noting that Employ Media’s lead attorney has form when it comes to reaching into ICANN’s pockets – Crowell & Moring’s Arif Ali also represented ICM Registry in the .xxx IRP case.