WIPO’s inconsistency called out at ICANN meeting.
Tucows CEO Elliot Noss seized an opportune moment to call out UDRP provider World Intellectual Property Organization during the first day of ICANN’s Seoul meetings.
During a session on Post-Expiration Domain Name Recovery, WIPO’s Eun-Joo Min commented that one of the problems with domain expiration is that registrars handle it inconsistently and in a non-transparent manner:
I think it is really important for the — not only for — especially for the registrants, but also for the general public to have some predictability about the life of that registration and not be subject to the whim of different registrars.
Anyone who reads some of WIPO’s panelist decisions in domain arbitration could flip that around on WIPO, and Noss did just that:
>>ELLIOT NOSS: Great. I find it ironic that comment is coming from WIPO. Having been a participant in a number of UDRP proceedings, there is an order of magnitude more transparency in registrars’ processes than there is in the UDRP process. In fact, we would see bordering on arbitrary decisions around time periods for submissions, the availability of submissions, things that would be found late an hour after a time period, things that would be allowed three weeks after a time period, and they all tended to go in a single direction.
So I would hope that WIPO could aspire to the level of transparency that registrars generally offer.
>>EUN-JOO MIN: Are published on the Internet.
>>ELLIOT NOSS: They’re published but not followed.
>>EUN-JOO MIN: They’re very transparent.
>>ELLIOT NOSS: And they say you may or may not allow extra time for submissions. You may or may not honor the time periods.
What’s frustrating to Noss and many domain owner is how WIPO and NAF arbitrators decide procedure inconsistently and are given the leeway to do so. Sometimes a response to a UDRP will be filed an hour late and the arbitrator will decide to consider it. Other times they don’t. Technically, complainants are only allowed to file an additional submission if the arbitrator asks for it, but this is rarely followed. When received, arbitrators usually take the additional submission into consideration; but sometimes they don’t. Even when they don’t, they usually note that “it didn’t add anything substantial”. This means they actually read the additional submission and considered it, but for the record they say they aren’t considering it.
So WIPO, here’s the message. Just publishing guidelines on your web site isn’t enough. You have to be consistent about them, and not favor the complainant. It’s like a registrar saying on its web site that you can usually renew your domain within a 30 day grace period, but giving some people only 10 days and others 50 days.