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Donuts’ appeal means .Web is a long way off

Court case for .web works its way through appeals court.

Question: When will .web domain names grace the internet?

Answer: no time soon.

In late November, Judge Percy Anderson of the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, granted ICANN’s motion to dismiss Donuts’ lawsuit against the organization over the auction for the .web top level domain name.

Donuts was miffed that Verisign struck an agreement with one of the bidders to buy the .web domain name from it post-auction. Verisign provided the funding to Nu Dot Co to buy the domain. Nu Dot Co also declined to enter into a private auction for the domain in which the losers would have split the proceeds.

Nu Dot Co subsequently won the auction for $135 million.

Donuts claimed that the deal between Verisign and Nu Dot Co was not done legitimately and sued. The court dismissed the case because Donuts entered into an agreement not to sue when it applied for .web with ICANN.

After the court’s decision, Donuts co-founder Jon Nevett said:

Donuts disagrees with the Court’s decision that ICANN’s required covenant not to sue, while being unconscionable, was not sufficiently unconscionable to be struck down as a matter of law. It is unfortunate that the auction process for .WEB was mired in a lack of transparency and anti-competitive behavior. ICANN, in its haste to proceed to auction, performed only a slapdash investigation and deprived the applicants of the right to fairly compete for .WEB in accordance with the very procedures ICANN demanded of applicants. Donuts will continue to utilize the tools at its disposal to address this procedural failure.

Over the Christmas holiday, Donuts filed an appeal to the motion to dismiss. The timing of the appeal was such that I didn’t notice it until just now.

Appeals take a long time. Donuts’ opening brief isn’t due until May 31 and ICANN’s answering brief isn’t due until a month after that. Then a hearing will be scheduled.

Concurrently, Verisign is dealing with a request for information from U.S. Antitrust forces. The antitrust actions seem unrelated to the auction and instead have to do with what Verisign plans to do with the .web domain name.

For now, people who can’t get their .com will have to settle for .net or any of the other hundreds of top level domain names. It might be that Verisign is just fine with that.

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Author: Andrew Allemann

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