.Sports IRP Panelist: “odor of corruption and impropriety” with .AFRICA

A dissenting panelist on the .Sports IRP decision of 5th May 2016 notes ICANN’s actions on the .Africa IRP which is the only applicant to beat ICANN and proceeded to sue in a California court.

The .sports /.sport new gTLD: Two applicants SportAccord  and Famous Four Media applied for .sport top level domain in 2012, during evaluation, it was found that .sport would be confusingly similar to .sports applied by Donuts which is the world’s largest domain name registry.

Donuts lost its initial bid for the .sports gTLD at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) after objections from the sports community. However the domains firm appealed ICANN’s decision through the independent review process (IRP) that also dragged on for some time.

As BNA reported on the case in 2015, “…back in November, SportAccord (the umbrella organization for both Olympic and non-Olympic international sports federations) and the International Rugby Board asked the International Centre for Dispute Resolution, which is handling the review, to dismiss Donut’s IRP request. They argued that Donuts lacked standing and that the IRP was an “unwarranted, anticompetitive and illegitimate attempt to delay” the application process. Donuts had applied for a standard ‘.sports’ while the others (.Sport) are community.

During the IRP process it was presided by 3 panelists, Jack . J Coe, Jr. (Chair), Philip W. Boesch, Jr., and Rayner M. Hamilton. In the final ruling made on 5th May 2016, Donuts was not successful in their defense in the IRP. However the panel was not unanimous as one panelist dissented the ruling.

Existing and concluded IRP cases were cited widely in the .Sports IRP, they include the .Africa IRP where DCA Trust was declared the winner, ICM (.XXX), Booking.com (.Hotel/Hoteis) Vistra Print (.Webs) and Merck KGaA (.Merck/.Merckmsd).

DCA Trust’s case which is the only case in the new gTLD process where an applicant successfully defended its IRP request against ICANN was part of the basis of the dissenting panelist who had specific unsavoury terms for ICANN’s actions noting the little question of ICANN “odor of corruption and impropriety” with .AFRICA application,

The dissent by Philip W. Boesch, Jr. which numbers 3 pages described the .Africa case on the Page 73 of the final ruling that

The DCA Case is not only Instructive; It addressed as This panel Should, the Fundamental Integrity of the System. Similarly, the distinction that is made regarding the DCA case is not only a technical one but one that exalts from over substance. There seems to be very little question that the odor of corruption and impropriety hung over the air of DCA review; it was the fact that decision presented a direct and blunt assault on the integrity of the entire process, that led to the DCA conclusion, not the distinctions that might be presented in some state law between constituents, affiliates agents, independent contractors and the like. As stated by the DCA panel, the Board’s failure to maintain its own accountability in any other way leaves the IRP as the “only and ultimate ‘accountability’ remedy for an applicant”3

In this case, all panel members agree that the integrity of the system is predicated upon the fullest and complete disclosures by the experts.

DCA Trust .africa IRP comments
DCA Trust has currently taken ICANN to court for breach of contract, fraud and declaratory relief that ICANN should refrain from processing ZACR’s application and that it shouldn’t have required a new geographic names evaluation.  DCA has won two injunctions (temporary, March 4th 2016 and preliminary, April 12, 2016 making sure  the .Africa domain is not going to be delegated to ZACR until the Court hears its case.   The DCA vs ICANN court filings are accessible at the following websites: ICANN and DCA Trust

A relevant informative source for the .sports case is found here https://icannwiki.com/.sport

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