Last week ICANN announced that the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) of Minneapolis, MN had been appointed to administer the new Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) rights protection mechanism for new gTLDs. (newgtlds.icann.org/en/announcements-and-media/announcement-2-20feb13-en) The announcement raises more questions than it answers.
Despite the press announcement’s claim that NAF “has a proven track record boasting resolution of over 19,000 claims in 12+ years of administering UDRP cases” ICA has a far more jaundiced view of what its track record proves. One year ago ICA asked ICANN to conduct an investigation of NAF’s UDRP practices after two particularly horrendous decisions were rendered by its examiners (internetcommerce.org/NAF_UDRP_FAIL) – and the response we received from ICANN staff was quite unsatisfactory.
A recent study of NAF’s pattern of examiner utilization was also quite disturbing – “Of the approximately 4,144 cases between March 5, 2010 and July 4, 2012, 7 mainly NAF-appointed panellists were appointed to 1,921 or 46% of all cases. There are currently approximately 136 panellists on NAF’s roster. This means that 5% of panellists decided 46 per cent of cases.” (dnattorney.com/NAFdomainnamedisputestudy2012.shtml)
So here are some questions for which we do not find answers in ICANN’s press release:
ICA plans to raise these questions directly with ICANN on behalf of its members as well as all registrants in new gTLDs who may face a URS procedure in the future. If potential new gTLD registrants believe that they face potential loss of use of their domains because they may be subject to an unprofessional and biased URS arbitration process it will dampen enthusiasm for domain registrations at new gTLDs generally.