Responding to questions posed by ICA Counsel Philip Corwin at the Public Forum in Beijing, ICANN is now on the record that it is developing a standard contract for all providers of the new Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) rights protection mechanism (RPM) for new gTLDs, and that more URS providers will be selected. This action sets a strong precedent for ICA’s long sought goal of placing UDRP providers under a standard contract.
Those answers were provided through a May 10th ICANN Blog post from Board Chairman Steve Crocker, “Answering Your Questions” (http://blog.icann.org/2013/05/answering-your-questions/), that links to the full set of responses prepared by ICANN Staff (http://beijing46.icann.org/meetings/beijing2013/presentation-public-forum-responses-11apr13-en.pdf). The URS response appears at page 6 as follows:
As regards Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) providers, will there be a contract developed that goes beyond the non-enforceable memorandum of understanding? Will there be other URS providers?
Yes, a contract is being developed and additional URS providers will be added.
The full transcript of the Beijing Public Forum can be found at http://beijing46.icann.org/meetings/beijing2013/transcript-public-forum-11apr13-en.pdf, with Corwin’s questions and remarks at pages 93-94:
PHILIP CORWIN: Good afternoon. Philip Corwin, again, this time speaking on behalf of the domain name investors and developers of the Internet Commerce Association. I have two questions relating to Uniform Rapid Suspension, one of the two new rights protection mechanisms for new TLDs.
The first refers to the fact that the STI-RT unanimously recommended that URS providers be placed under contract, and then the board unanimously adopted all of its recommendations regarding the URS. And, yet, the National Arbitration Forum which had been selected as an URS provider is bound to ICANN only by a two-page memorandum of understanding with no enforcement provisions. So the first question is: Will there be a contract developed that goes beyond that non-enforceable memorandum of understanding?
The second relates to: Will there be other URS providers? The press release at the time NAF was announced said it was the first. And yet I have spoken to other highly qualified applicants who applied to be providers, and they have been able to get no response from ICANN staff regarding if or when their applications may ever be acted upon.
So any clarification on those points would be appreciated.
And I do want to thank ICANN for the fact — and note that we were able to get a U.R.S. provider at the projected price point without any further reduction or modification of the rights of registrants under the URS. And we are very appreciative of that. Thank you.
On April 19th ICANN announced that, in addition to NAF, the Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre (ADNDRC) had been appointed as the second URS arbitration provider, and that ICANN expected to announce one or more additional providers in the near future (see http://www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-2-19apr13-en.htm).
ICA believes that it is extremely important to place all the providers for this new RPM under a standard contract with sound enforcement provisions to ensure uniform application and fair treatment of registrants as well as to prevent forum shopping.
While the fact that there will be a contract is good news, what’s in it is critically important. We presume that ICANN will put the draft out for public comment, as it does for all new or revised contractual agreements (for example, the currently pending revised Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) and New gTLD Registry Agreement (RA) are both currently out for comment). When that posting occurs ICA will carefully review its provisions and submit relevant comments.
As both NAF and ADNDRC are both current providers of UDRP arbitration services, we believe that placing their URS services under contract sets a clear and strong precedent for implementing the same type of standard enforceable agreement for the UDRP. ICA continues to strongly believe that ICANN should not accredit any new UDRP providers until such a standard contract has been developed and put in place.