WIPO decides not to accept late response to objection.
World Intellectual Property Organization has made a determination that it will not accept a late response to a Legal Rights Objection against .axis, thereby effectively killing off Saudi Telecom Company’s bid for the top level domain.
Axis Communications AB filed the objection against the .axis application. Saudi Telecom then submitted its response to the objection too late.
This resulted in ICANN Ombudsman Chris LaHatte getting involved. He issued an opinion to ICANN’s board, requesting that the Board ask WIPO to reconsider its stance of strictly adhering to the deadlines. LaHatte wrote that accepting the response to the objection “is a fairer result, than letting the [applicant’s] effort over a number of years and the considerable expenditure be wasted by a formalistic approach to the time deadline.”
The board then contacted WIPO, which in turn asked ICANN if it wanted WIPO to accept the response or not. ICANN wouldn’t say; It said it just wanted WIPO to come to a determination.
As it related to LaHatte’s opinion, WIPO notes:
…contrary to what is stated in the ICANN Ombudsman’s report, the LRO procedure, including notably the sanction introduced in Article 11(g) of the Procedure, was not established by the WIPO Center but by ICANN. Also contrary to what is stated in the report, the WIPO Center had neither at that time refused the Applicant’s response, nor accepted it, but had rather suspended action in the proceeding to seek guidance from ICANN. The WIPO Center has further noted that the report indicates that for the purpose of the report the Ombudsman contacted the Applicant, and that the report makes no mention of contact with the other party.
WIPO says it informed Saudi Telecom multiple times of the deadline. At the end of the day, the “WIPO Center simply finds insufficient basis to accept the late-filed response”.
Unlike in a UDRP, with a Legal Rights Objection the failure to respond results in an automatic win for the objector. This means .axis is effectively dead unless ICANN takes the matter up again. No other companies applied for .axis.
The only other Legal Rights Objection that had been hanging out there was .zone, filed by AutoZone against Donuts. AutoZone ended up terminating its objection. I have no doubt it would have lost its objection.
The final result from Legal Rights Objections: Objectors won 5 cases (if you include .axis), Applicants won 59, and 5 cases were terminated.