At the ICANN Open Forum today at Durban An attorney Mark Partridge took the floor to tell ICANN how much money an objector has to tie up to get their objection heard by the ICC.
The ICC hear objections to new gTLD’s that are based on limited public interest objections and community objections.
Here is his statement:
I have a new issue to present involving TLD objection process.
I’m counsel for parties engaged in community am and limited public interest objections administered by the icc.
I’m also a panelist with the WIPO legal rights objection procedure administered by WIPO.
I served on the IRT, and I’m a member of the intellectual property constituency, but i make these comments in my private and personal capacity out of concern for that process.
I stand to express concern about the high amount of the deposits that are being required by the ICC.
it has been reported that the deposits required from individual parties have, in some cases, exceeded 100,000 euros.
I’m aware of a consolidated proceeding in which the total deposit required was 1,130,000 euros.
I’m also considered about the amount of the required deposit to be prohibitive for that not-for-profit association to advance.
iIwould note that these fees and deposits charged by the ICC are in stark contrast to the fixed fee charged by WIPO for the legal Rights Objections. thus, my concern and comments apply to the ICC proceedings.
My fear is that the unusually high deposits required for the ICC objections threaten to undermine the fairness and viability of the objection procedure going forward.
My question is, what can and will ICANN do, going forward, to address and correct this emerging problem?
Christine Willett from ICANN answered by saying the “objections being considered by the ICC are substantial considerations. they are affecting — considering cases with considerable commercial impact, and they are a different type of case than the other fixed-fee objections that were clarified in the guidebook and specified in the RFP process as dispute resolution service due to the nature of the limited public interest and community objections, the fees for those disputes were not capped.”
“The applicant guidebook specified objection fees up to $122,000. and we are aware of objections up to approximately $200,000 so although it is substantially more, it is in the range that applicant guidebook was also written four or five years ago. so some of those costs certainly may have increased in the intervening years.”
“The other point i would like to make sure everyone is aware of that the prevailing party in the objections will have their fees refunded to them.”
“So the ICC is collecting funds from both the applicant and the objector to cover all of the anticipated costs with the intention of not going back to either applicant or objector to collect fees with the prevailing party getting their fees returned.”
“We have requested from the ICC further information about the details of their fee structure to provide clarity to community. as soon as we have that, we will make that — publish that and make that available.”
Mr. Partridge makes a valid point, regardless of whether you get your fees returned, 100,000’s of thousands of Euro’s is a huge amount of money to tie up to just object to a new gTLD. Remember even if an objector wins its case all that happens is that the applicant does not get the applied for new gTLD, this time. The Objector walks away with nothing.
Considering the cost of an objection based on limited public interest objections or community objections which must be filed with the ICC is higher than the cost of filing a new gTLD application in the first, you might see a lot more applications the next time ICANN opens up applications for new gTLD’s