In turning down Booking.com request for reconsideration the ICANN Board appears to also have bad news for those that think the Board will step into settle the .Com Vs .Cam split decisions.
As for Booking.com ton July 7th 2013, they submitted a the ICANN Board to reconsider the ICANN staff action of 26 February 26th 2013, when the String Similarity Panel placed the applications for .hotels and .hoteis into a string similarity contention set.
The Board in denying the reconsideration request of Booking.com said:
“Booking.com does not suggest that the process for String Similarity Review set out in the Applicant Guidebook was not followed, or that ICANN staff violated any established ICANN policy in accepting the String Similarity Review Panel (“Panel”) decision on placing .hotels and .hoteis in contention sets.”
“Instead, Booking.com is supplanting what it believes the review methodology for assessing visual similarity should have been, as opposed to the methodology set out at Section 126.96.36.199.2 of the Applicant Guidebook.”
“In asserting a new review methodology, Booking.com is asking the BGC (and the Board through the New gTLD Program Committee (NGPC)) to make a substantive evaluation of the confusability of the strings and to reverse the decision.
“In the context of the New gTLD Program, the Reconsideration process is not however intended for the Board to perform a substantive review of Panel decisions..”
“While Booking.com may have multiple reasons as to why it believes that its application for .hotels should not be in contention set with .hoteis, Reconsideration is not available as a mechanism to re-try the decisions of the evaluation panels.”
In a blog post yesterday on CircleId.com, written by Statton Hammock, of Demand Media,suggested that the mess created by different panels from International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) coming up to opposite decisions regarding whether the string .Cam is confusingly similar to .Com would be settled by the ICANN Board.
In the CircleID.com post Mr Hammock writes in part;
“Regardless of whether one believes the expert’s reasoning was sound or erroneous, the decision should move ICANN and the community into action because last week the ICDR issued two decisions which denied VeriSign’s objection against AC Webconnecting BV’s application and dotAgency Limited’s application for the very same .CAM string.”
“ICANN needs to reconcile these three decisions so the outcome of .CAM is treated consistently across all three applications”
While I would tend to agree with Mr. Hammock it seems that ICANN has painted itself into a corner with this decision on Booking.com.
If the ICANN board cannot use “Reconsideration” to re-try the decisions of the evaluation panels how can ICANN review the decisions of the arbitration panels they empowered?