auDA Management Rejects Wrongful Attempts to Prohibit Domain Name Investment in Australia

The Internet Commerce Association (the “ICA”) Congratulates Australian Domain Investors on the rejection of certain Proposed Policy Changes in the Australian namespace which would have had a detrimental effect on domain name investors and on the Australian namespace.

On April 15, 2018, auDA management responded to the Policy Review Panel’s Final Report and Recommendations (the “PRP”). The ICA had submitted a detailed response to the Final Report (“the ICA Comment”) and auDA Management has clearly taken it to heart. As pointed out in the ICA Comment, and as concluded by auDA Management, “there is no evidence that domain name flipping as an investment strategy is having a negative impact on the utility of the .au domain nor resulting in a scarcity of domain names” and that “the PRP has not provided any evidentiary material on which to assess the nature of the warehousing problem and what, if any, action is required”.

Moreover, auDA Management rightly concluded that, “the warehousing prohibition appears to disproportionately target domain investors as the licence portfolios or holdings of trademark and brand owners will be excluded under the PRP proposal. This proposal elevates the rights of trademark and other intellectual property owners over other licence holders in the .au domain, which may give rise to issues of market power and anti-competitive practices.”


Moreover, auDA Management has “abolished” the domain monetisation rule for the com.au and net.au namespaces: “A Person….will be able to use [their domain name] for any legitimate purpose, including domain name monetisation or domain name investment. This is consistent with the approach in other ccTLDs, including .ca, .nz, .fr, .uk and .de domains.”

The ICA is very pleased that auDA Management has gotten these crucial issues right and that it has resisted unsubstantiated and ill-conceived attempts to prohibit domain name investing and monetisation in the .au namespace. The ICA believes that the rejection of these proposed policies will ensure the continued viability and success of the .au namespace and expresses its appreciation for auDA management’s clear rejection of these wrongheaded policy proposals which would have dramatically affected domain name investment in Australia.


ICA Comment Letter Regarding Proposed Renewal of the .org Registry Agreement

ICANN has recently announced that it intends to eliminate price caps on .org domains in the new registry contract. Under the new terms, the registry could increase prices on registrations to an unlimited amount, provided that they give advance notice.

ICANN also preemptively added URS (Uniform Rapid Suspension) to the new contracts, despite the RPM Working Group still examining and deliberating on this very issue.

ICA has composed and submitted a comment letter to ICANN opposing this decision. Read the full letter here

ICA Comment on .org Pricing – April 10, 2019


ICA Recommendations to the auDA Board: Reform of Existing Policies & Implementation of Direct Registration

auDA, the Australian registry, is considering some dramatic policy changes, one of which attempts to potentially devastate domain name investing in Australia. While auDA has never had domain name investment-friendly policies, these new proposed changes make things decidedly worse and threaten the very existence of investment in Australian domain names.

The ICA views this as a threat to domain investing globally, and believes auDA should embrace domain investing, rather than oppose it. We have composed and submitted a comment letter, which you can read here.

You can also get involved yourself. auDA has called for public comment submissions, and we encourage all of you, to submit your comments. The deadline is April 12th, and you will find more information here.

If you have interest or stake in the Australian domain name market, and would like more information, or a template to submit your own comment to auDA, please email us at execdir@internetcommerce.org.

ICA Letter re Policy Review April 9 2019


UDRP Panelists: Getting the Standard Right Where No Response is Filed

Domain owners rely on the UDRP to be implemented fairly and for transfers to be ordered only when there is clear evidence that the domain owner has violated the Policy. In an article published today on CircleID, ICA’s General Counsel, Zak Muscovitch, describes a mistaken approach adopted by some panelists in cases where the domain owner did not submit a defense. The article highlights decisions in which domain names were transferred despite apparent inadequate evidence of bad faith on the part of the domain owners. Zak attributes of any evidence to this mistaken approach to a misapplication of the UDRP Rules and to a misreading of an early influential decision that has served to lead panelists astray.

While undefended disputes are often seen as “throw away” cases, since most UDRP disputes are undefended the quality of outcomes in the UDRP depends largely on how these undefended cases are handled. The chance for an easy win in an undefended case also likely encourages complainants to try their luck with frivolous complaints.

More robust evidentiary requirements in no response cases have the potential to greatly improve the quality of UDRP outcomes, and would better assure the rights of domain owners.

Read the article here


The Hidden Perils of Filing a Baseless UDRP Complaint

In our newest article on CircleID, Zak Muscovitch asks: Is there a downside to misusing the UDRP to attempt a domain name hijacking? Read the full article on CircleID


Letter to ICANN Re NTIA and the .COM Registry Agreement

On Friday, November 16th, ICA filed a letter addressed to Göran Marby regarding the .COM Registry Agreement, arguing that ICANN should reject any attempt by Verisign to increase its fees. Higher fees for Verisign are not justified, as demonstrated by the following four key points:

  1. a)  Verisign is a provider of technical registry services, it does not own the .com name space;
  2. b)  Verisign’s fees are not constrained by significant competition;
  3. c)  Verisign is already well-paid for its services, as evidenced by its substantial profits;1 and
  4. d)  ICANN need not approve fee hikes; on the contrary ICANN ought to assert its right to set reasonable fee levels for its hired registry manager.

Read the full letter here.


Verisign’s Attempt to Increase its Fees Still Unjustified Despite Diversionary Tactic

The ICA released a must-read statement on the price increase of .com domains earlier today! Shortly after the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)’s recent announcement allowing Verisign to pursue increased .com registry fees, Verisign published a blog post questioning the business practices of registrars and domain name investors. The ICA, on behalf of its registrar and domain name investor members, had previously spoken out against a .com fee increase, as did others in the domain industry. Rather than justify a fee hike, Verisign attempted to shift the community’s attention elsewhere. Yet the issue remains that the fee cap currently in place was put there for good reason: because there was no justification for any increase and because the public needed protection from excessive fees. Higher fees for Verisign are not justified, as demonstrated by considering these four key points:

  • Verisign is a provider of technical registry services, it does not own the .com name space;
  • Unlike Verisign’s fees, the prices set by registrars and domain name investors are held in check by competition;
  • Verisign is already well-paid for its services, as evidenced by its substantial profits; and
  • ICANN need not approve fee hikes; on the contrary ICANN ought to assert its right to set reasonable fee levels for its hired registry manager.

Read the full statement here


ICA Statement on U.S. Government Granting Verisign .Com Price Increase

As the domain name community knows, the ICA has been warning of an impending price hike on .com domain name registrations. We publicized the issue, launched a website to increase awareness of the issue, created a petition that attracted over 2,000 signatures, and advocated for our position directly to David Redl, the head of NTIA, as well as to the Department of Justice, and to ICANN.

We are disappointed to see that Verisign and the NTIA have made a deal to enable potential .com price hikes as well as other changes to the .com Registry Agreement.

The ICA is carefully reviewing this development and will continue to make domain name registrants’ concerns heard, particularly at ICANN which has the ultimate jurisdiction to permit or decline changes to the Registry Agreement.

We thank our members and friends for their support and encourage the domain name community to join us as we continue to advocate for domain name registrants’ rights.



Nominations for ICA’s 2019 Lonnie Borck Memorial Award – now open!

The ICA is happy and proud to announce that we are now accepting nominations for ICA’s 2019 Lonnie Borck Memorial Award! Thanks to NamesCon’s generous support, for the 3rd year in the row, the award will be held during the conference.
The Lonnie Borck Memorial Award is granted to an individual for indelible contribution to domain investor rights, and we invite you all to take part in the process and submit your suggestions for the nominees. The nomination process is open to the entire domain name community so please share the short nomination form with your colleagues, on your blogs, or social media. The form will be opened until November 1st, after which, the winner will be chosen from amongst the nominees by members of the ICA Board.
Last year’s award was presented to Kathy Kleiman, a pioneer advocate for domain registrant rights from the very beginning of the UDRP process, and David Weslow of Wiley Rein received the award in 2017, for his pro bono representation of Heidi Powell as she attempted to protect her registration of HeidiPowell.com.
For coverage of past years’ awards, check out the below links.

ICA Letter to David Redl on Expiry of NTIA-Verisign Cooperative Agreement

In its letter to David Redl of the NTIA, the ICA urges that the NTIA extend Amendment 32 to the Cooperative Agreement between the Department of Commerce and Verisign, which is set to expire on November 30, 2018. Read the full letter, which was submitted on October 18th, 2018, here.