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.
ICANN’s At-Large Advisory Committee has voted to object to three of the four applications for the .health gTLD.
Afilias, which is one of the applicants, will not receive an ALAC objection. By a single vote, ALAC decided not to go after its application.
Fourteen of the 15-member ALAC panel voted on Tuesday. For DotHealth LLC’s bid, the yes/no/abstain vote was 8/3/3; dot Health Ltd’s was 10/3/1, and Donuts’ was 10/3/1.
Afilias managed to get one extra “no” vote (its result was 7/4/3). so with only 50% of the voters voting “yes”, the motion to object failed.
The ALAC did not vote on .健康, which means “healthy” or “wellness” in Chinese, despite earlier indications that it would.
The identities of the voters and the way they voted does not appear to have been revealed.
The objections will be of the Community or Limited Public Interest variety, and paid for by ICANN.
Healthcare-related gTLDs are already the most controversial of those being applied for.
Each .health bid received four Governmental Advisory Committee Early Warnings late last year, and earlier this week the Independent Objector’s list of 24 objections was dominated by medically oriented strings.
With the deadline for filing objections against new gTLD applications fast approaching, the first such objection has been revealed.
Starting Dot, which has applied for .immo and other strings, has filed a String Confusion Objection against Demand Media’s .immobilien bid, according to the International Center for Dispute Resolution.
“Immobilien” is German for “homes” in the real estate context, while “immo” is a shorthand for the same term in a number of European languages.
The objection itself does not appear to have been published, but one can only assume that it’s based on the similarity of meaning between the two strings, rather than visual or audible confusion.
While it’s the first objection to be published, based on conversations with many interested parties I’m expecting a LOT more.
The deadline for filing objections using any of the four available mechanisms, is Wednesday.
ICANN’s At-Large Advisory Committee is planning to formally object to four applications for the .health gTLD and one for .健康, which means “.healthy” in Chinese.
Bids backed by Afilias, Donuts, Famous Four Media and Straat Investments (the investment vehicle of .CO Internet CEO Juan Diego Calle), as well as China’s StableTone, are affected.
Dev Anand Teelucksingh, chair of the ALAC’s new gTLD review group, posted the following to an ALAC mailing list this weekend:
Objection statements on community grounds will be drafted for the applications for .health given that the four tests for community objection grounds were passed. The gTLD RG will attempt to put together the objection statements to the applications for .health in time for RALO [Regional At-Large Organization] review around 22 February 2013.
The ALAC is able to file objections to new gTLD bids, using funds provided by ICANN, on only the Community or Limited Public Interest grounds.
Of the four strings before it (.health, .nyc, .patagonia and .amazon) the ALAC review group decided that only a Community objection against .health met its criteria.
These are the only confirmed ALAC objections to date.
The ALAC had received a request to object from the International Medical Informatics Association, which said:
These five proposals are seen as problematic by the global health community for the following reasons:
- None of the applicants demonstrates that the name will be operated in the public interest.
- None of the applicants demonstrates adequate consumer protection mechanisms.
- All of the applicants are commercial in nature and none represent the health community.
Two governments — France and Mali — both expressed concerns about .health on similar grounds by filing Early Warnings last November.
ICANN’s deadline for filing objections is March 13.
The battle for contested new gTLDs .rugby and .basketball is turning nasty.
Roar Domains, a New Zealand marketing firm whose gTLD applications are backed by the official international bodies for both sports, is promising to pull out all the stops to kill off its competition.
The company, which is partnered with Minds + Machines on both bids, has told rival portfolio applicant Donuts that it will attack its applications for the two TLDs on at least three fronts.
Notably, Roar wants Donuts disqualified from the entire new gTLD program, and plans to lobby to have Donuts fail its background check.
The company told Donuts last month:
while we have no desire to join the chorus of voices speaking out against Donuts, it is incumbent on us to pursue the automatic disqualification of Applicant Guidebook Section 1.2.1, and every opposition and objection process available to us.
Applicant Guidebook section 1.2.1 deals with background checks.
Donuts came under more scrutiny than most on these grounds during the new gTLDs public comment period last year due to its co-founders being involved at the sharp end of domain investment over the last decade.
Demand Media and eNom, where founder Paul Stahura was a senior executive, have lost many UDRP cases over the years.
A mystery lawyer who refuses to disclose his clients started pursuing Donuts last August, saying the company is “unsuited and ineligible to participate in the new gTLD program.”
Separate (pseudonymous?) public comments fingered a former Donuts director for allegedly cybersquatting the Olympics and Disney.
While Roar has not claimed responsibility for these specific previous attacks, it certainly seems to be planning something similar in future.
In addition, Roar and International Rugby Board, which supports Roar’s application for .rugby, say they plan to official objections with ICANN about rival .rugby bids.
The IRB told Donuts, in a letter shortly before Christmas:
As the global representative of the sport and the only applicant vested with the trust and representation of the rugby community, we are unquestionably the rightful steward of .RUGBY.
Without the support of the global rugby community your commercialization efforts for .RUGBY will be thwarted. We are also preparing an objection to file against your application in accordance with ICANN rules to which you will be required to dedicate resources to formulate a response.
Roar and the IRB are also both lobbying members of ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee, which has the power to file potentially decisive GAC Advice against any application.
Roar told Donuts recently:
Roar serves as the voice and arm for FIBA [the International Basketball Federation] and IRB in the New gTLD area. We are pleased to have obtained four Early Warnings on behalf of our applications, and fully expect the GAC process to be completed to GAC Advice.
The Early Warnings against the two other .rugby applicants were filed by the UK government — the only warnings it filed — while Greece warned the two non-Roar .basketball applicants.
Roar is also involved with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) on its .basketball bid.
While commercial interests obviously play a huge role, there’s a philosophical disagreement at the heart of these fights that could be encapsulated in the following question:
Should new gTLDs only be delegated to companies and organizations most closely affiliated with those strings?
In response to the UK’s Early Warning, Donut has written to UK GAC representative Mark Carvell asking for face-to-face talks and making the case for a “neutral” registry provider for .rugby.
Donuts told Carvell:
We believe gTLDs should be run safely and securely, and in a manner that is fair to all law-abiding registrants, not only those predetermined as eligible. A neutral third party, such as Donuts, can be best capable of achieving this outcome.
Donuts believes a neutral operator is better able to ensure that the gTLD reflects the full diversity of opinion and content of all Internet users who are interested in the term “rugby.”
As the IRB is a powerful voice in rugby, an IRB‐managed registry might not be neutral in its operations, raising questions about its ability to impartially oversee the gTLD. For example, will IRB/Roar chill free speech by censoring content adversarial to their interests? How would they treat third parties who are interested in rugby but aren’t part of the IRB? What about IRB critics or potential rival leagues?
Despite these questions, no .rugby applicant has said it plans to operate a restricted registry. There are no applications for .basketball or .rugby designated as “Community” bids.
The IRB/Roar application specifically states “anyone can register a .rugby domain name.”
Both .basketball and .rugby are contested by Roar (FIBA/IRB/M+M), Donuts (via subsidiaries) and portfolio applicant Domain Venture Partners (aka Famous Four Media, also via subsidiaries).
Roar is a sports marketing agency that is also involved in bids for .baseball, .soccer, .football and .futbol. The New Zealand national team football captain, Ryan Nelsen, is on its board.
Here are the letters (pdf).