ICANN says registrar contract trumps national court. Registrar warns of legal consequences.
The typo domain name facebok.com has finally been returned to Facebook, over eight months after it was subject to a successful cyberquatting complaint.
The domain does not currently resolve, but Whois records show it was transferred to Facebook from its previous registrant, one “Franz Bauer”, last Thursday.
The case was marked by controversy, after ICANN threatened to shut down its sponsoring registrar, EuroDNS, for failing to transfer the domain last within 10 days, as required by UDRP rules.
EuroDNS had resisted the transfer after being named in a lawsuit, in its native Luxembourg, filed by a suspicious Panama shell company going by the name Facebok.com. The plaintiff claimed the domain had been “stolen” by Bauer.
But ICANN told the registrar last week that the Registrar Accreditation Agreement only allows the registrar to defer a transfer if the original registrant – not a third party – sues.
In a letter noting that EuroDNS is “a long-standing and respected member of the ICANN community”, the ICANN compliance department said:
the only kind of documentation that will stop the registrar from implementing a panel decision ordering a transfer is evidence that the registrant/respondent has commenced a lawsuit against the complainant in a jurisdiction to which the complainant has submitted under UDRP Rules. The mere filing of a complaint by a third party does not excuse the registrar from fulfilling its obligations under the policy.
in recognition that there has been a court filing, ICANN must reiterate that failing to comply with the relevant contractual provisions of the RAA subjects EuroDNS to escalated compliance action up to and including termination of the EuroDNS accreditation.
That seems to have been sufficient clarity for EuroDNS to push through the transfer, but the registrar is not happy about the situation, which may leave it in a tricky legal position in Luxembourg.
In a reply to ICANN, EuroDNS CEO Xavier Buck suggested that the story may not be over yet:
the action you demand from EuroDNS will have tremendous consequences for our company in the pending judiciary case.
Consequently, EuroDNS reserves all rights to seek indemnification from ICANN for any damages or loss caused by the action we have been forced to take not to lose our Registrar accreditation.
The lawsuit was filed last September, just days after the UDRP case was decided, but has not yet gone to court.
Under its previous ownership, facebok.com redirected to a series of scam sites that may have proved rather lucrative.