.Africa domains Launch Begins, but litigation continues

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has given dotAfrica the ahead to proceed with their launch plan after the domain was put in the root zone.

According to ZACR NPC, the dotAfrica Sunrise Period will run for the next sixty days beginning today, 4 April 2017 – 2 June 2017.

While the launch begins, the domain dispute is still going on in a California court. The case  matured from an IRP which took 2 years and DotConnectAfrica won, it was the first ever IRP in the new gTLD program to be won by an applicant. The case is now set for trial in February, 2018.

DCA Trust submitted its first Amended Complaint (“FAC”) on 26 February 2016,  against Defendants Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”), and ZA Central Registry (“ZACR”) (collectively “Defendants”)

Following that, on March 4th 2016 DCA won its first ruling that granted an Ex Parte Application for TRO (DE [20]) Interim Relief that ICANN should hold off from delegating the .AFRICA generic top-level domain (gTLD) for ZA Central Registry (ZACR) and on April 12, 2016, the   Court in Central District Of California granted DCA Trust a Preliminary Injunction on the .Africa gTLD, the decision was made for case no. 16-CV-00862 RGK (JCx) [PDF].

ICANN went on to appeal and the judge made decision to deny DotConnectAfrica’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction to stop the delegation of the .AFRICA generic top-level domain (gTLD) to ZA Central Registry (ZACR), after DCA’s case was remanded from Federal court due to lack of jurisdiction.

The judge made the ruling, however it does not yet address or resolve the merits of the claims made by the plaintiff DotConnectAfrica but merely states that DCA is unlikely to win its suit due to the covenant it signed.

Redelegation to DCA pending a trial win

The also judge stated in the ruling that although the public also has an interest in having the .Africa gTLD properly awarded through a fair and transparent application process, this concern does not apply to the interim harm analysis because, in the event that DCA ultimately prevails in this action, the gTLD can be re-delegated. Speaking to CIO East Africa in an exclusive interview, Sophia Bekele, CEO of DotConnectAfrica when asked about the re-delegation said

“it is indeed possible to re-delegate a string, of course, based on a guiding ICANN policy and governing protocols. It has been done in ccTLDs.  Moreover, we shall hold on strongly to the reassurances that have been given by the judge in the preliminary injunction ruling wherein it was directly argued that if DCA Trust prevails on the merits of the case during jury trial, that the string will be re-delegated. Even ICANN and ZACR have strenuously argued that the string will be re-delegated in such an eventuality, so there is no question about this.”

adding that

“DCA Trust intends to go as far as legally possible using available judicial processes within the US legal system. We believe in justice and the rule of law, so we are determined to utilize every legal means possible to ensure that justice is done.”

It is evident that the case at the Court is still in early stages, and there are more decision to be made by the court.

Leave a Reply