ICANN Board Follows ICA Suggestion, Defers Action on ACDR’s UDRP Proposal

Domain registrants won’t be receiving UDRP notices from Amman, Jordan for at least a while. Last week ICA sent a letter to ICANN’s Board asking that it defer action on the pending proposal of the Arab Center for Dispute Resolution (ACDR) to be accredited as a UDRP arbitration provider and put its revised proposal out for public comment. On Thursday, February 28th the Board held a telephonic meeting – and did what ICA had requested.

We have been advised by one Board member that ICA’s letter “sparked quite a bit of discussion” during last Thursday’s meeting.  The announcement of the Board decision can be found at http://www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-2-01mar13-en.htm. The Purpose of the notice is described as follows:

ICANN is opening a public comment forum to receive comment on the Arab Center for Domain Name Dispute Resolution’s revised proposal to serve as one of the official dispute resolution service providers for the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).

The ACDR is jointly established by the Arab Intellectual Property Mediation and Arbitration Society (AIPMAS) and the Arab Society for Intellectual Property (ASIP), with headquarters in Amman, Jordan and additional offices in other Arab Countries. Both the AIPMAS (established in 1987) and ASIP promote the activities of the Arab Center of Mediation and Arbitration, established in 2003, active in resolving conflicts related to intellectual property through international arbitrators. If approved, the ACDR would be the first Approved UDRP Dispute Resolution Service Provider headquartered in an Arab state.

The ACDR’s earlier proposal was previously posted for comment. ICANN now seeks input on the revisions, to assist ICANN in determining if this proposal is ripe for Board approval.

We certainly appreciate the Board’s attention to ICA’s request, and its subsequent  decision –as we do the input on this matter that was conveyed to the Board last week by the Business and Intellectual Property Constituencies. Although we do have to question how a matter that has now been put out for public comment to determine if it is “ripe for Board approval” was ever placed on the Board’s Consent Agenda in the first place?

ICA recognizes that a number of factors – including the coming introduction of IDN gTLDs, the spreading globalization of Internet use, and ICANN’s recent decision to establish major offices in Singapore and Istanbul as it reshapes itself as less of a US-centric organization – will likely result in more applications from organizations in the developing world to provide UDRP services. However, we continue to believe that ICANN must establish a standard, enforceable agreement with all UDRP providers to assure that UDRP administration is truly “uniform” no matter which provider is involved. Otherwise, there will likely be an inevitable divergence in arbitration practice that encourages complainant forum shopping at the expense of registrant rights.

In addition to reiterating that overarching objective, ICA will carefully review the ACDR’s Revised Proposal and Relevant Annexures that have now been posted by ICANN to see if substantial improvements have been made since the original September 2010 proposal. The initial comment period opened on March 1st and closes on March 22nd.

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