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Original .web gTLD applicant sues ICANN

Kevin Murphy, October 18, 2012, 06:21:10 (UTC), Domain Registries

Image Online Design, which unsuccessfully applied for the .web gTLD all the way back in 2000, has sued ICANN, alleging trademark infringement and breach of contract.
IOD, which says it has over 20,000 .web domains under management in an alternate root, says ICANN never officially rejected its .web bid, and that it should not have allowed other companies to apply for it.
It’s looking for an injunction preventing ICANN awarding .web to any other company, as well as seeking ICANN’s “profits” resulting from the alleged infringement of its mark.
There are seven .web applicants in the current round, but IOD is not among them.
The company paid $50,000 for its application in 2000, but it’s not happy with the $86,000 discount ICANN offered 2000-round applicants on their $185,000 fees if they wanted to resubmit their applications.
The IOD complaint claims:

Allowing other entities to file applications for a .web TLD while IOD’s .WEB TLD application was still pending is improper, unlawful and inequitable.

The complaint cites the November 2000 ICANN meeting in Marina Del Rey, during which the first proof-of-concept gTLDs were approved by ICANN’s board of directors.
It notes that then-chair Vint Cerf steered the board away from approving .web applications filed by Afilias and others because IOD was already operating .web in an alternate root at the time.
You can watch a video of that meeting here.
The complaint also alleges tenuous conflicts of interest between two .web applicants (Afilias and Google) and members of ICANN’s board of directors (current chair and vice-chair Steve Crocker and Bruce Tonkin in the case of Afilias, and long-gone chair Vint Cerf in the case of Google).
The suit comes just a few days after IOD’s fellow 2000 applicant and alternate root player, Name.Space, sued ICANN on similar grounds, trying to prevent 189 gTLDs being approved.
Here’s the IOD complaint.

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Comments (11)

  1. Brad Mugford says:

    I am not surprised.
    I have pointed out for months that ICANN has major issues with the original .WEB application.
    I posted this months ago –
    – If ICANN awards it to any other company, they could face legal issues with the application that predates the new applications.
    – If ICANN respects the existing application, there could be lawsuits from new applicants.
    – If ICANN doesn’t award the extension and just keeps the application fees it could face lawsuits.
    – If ICANN doesn’t award the extension, but gives refunds, it could set a precedent for refunds, which is something I am sure ICANN does not want.
    There is no good solution for ICANN.

  2. jam says:

    ICANN!! The best company!
    ICANN!! They aren’t number 3!
    Go ICANN!! you rule!!!!!

  3. @domains says:

    Yet another hurdle to the new gtlds process! I see nothing but more delays.

  4. Tom G says:

    Hangups maybe for some new gtlds, but it looks like we will see delegations at 20 per week starting about May.

  5. I knew this shoe would drop. .web is about the only decent new suffix out of all I’ve seen and Chris Ambler has had prior claim on it for a long time.
    Hope he prevails and we can finally get our easydns.web domain that we pre-registered way back in the day 🙂

  6. KD says:

    Yes, Chris Ambler deserves .web. And all the current .web applicants should sue ICANN for allowing them to waste their time and money applying for this TLD. It really was ICANN’s responsibility to clean things like this up before taking applications in the first place.
    I also wonder if this might not set precidence for all other TLDs that have been used in alternative roots to claim legitimate rights over what they have been using for many years.

  7. Ray Marshall says:

    What were the other companies thinking when they applied for .web? They should have avoided .web out of respect for IOD.

  8. Rubens Kuhl says:

    Presence in alternate roots provides no rights at all within the ICANN process or any law for that matter; although sometimes a string would be both with an alternate root and have applied for previous gTLD rounds, the later is the one that gives them some rights.
    The applications with no formal response are a liability to ICANN and it will bite them. But that’s the issue, not the dissociate roots that there are out there.

  9. In this case, IOD’s inclusion in alternative roots is a function of those roots choosing to include it. Make no mistake, IOD is pleased at the recognition, but it is also to note that all alternative roots also include .com, .net, .org, .info et. al. (with the possible exclusion of the contested .biz).
    IOD does not and has never run an alternative root. IOD runs a zone for .web just like Verisign runs a zone for .com.
    At the end of the day, the .web zone exists because in 1995 IOD was asked by Jon Postel to help show “rough consensus and running code.” Dr. Postel specifically asked to see a functional registry before proceeding on his original plan for new TLDs. IOD was delighted to show that running code. The result was a fully-functional registry in 1996, something that no other applicant in 2000 could claim. It’s a pity that it did no good in ICANN’s evaluation process.
    Now, after over 18 years of patience, perhaps the longest-standing prospective registry can have a chance to compete?

  10. Tony S. says:

    I hope Chris can get the bull by the horns. He rightfully deserves what is his. IOD and their .Web registry played by the rules and took a substantial risk back in the day. I, with others with the same foresight, supported this effort with my early .web pre-registrations. ICANN needs to play by the rules now as well and honor this fully functioning registry.. and recognize IOD as a legit registrar.
    Alas, If ICANN can steer clear of big corporate influence, it would be a miracle, but I still haven’t given up hope. Best of Luck Chris and fight the good fight!

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