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ICANN: Wednesday’s .Web auction must go on

Group responds to lawsuit and argues auction should take place on Wednesday as planned.

ICANN has responded (pdf) to Donuts’ lawsuit over the .web top level domain name auction, saying that Donuts’ allegations are unfounded and that the auction should proceed as planned on Wednesday.

Donuts is trying to halt tomorrow’s auction because it believes another applicant, Nu Dot Co, is now in the control of another party.

ICANN says that Nu Dot Co has confirmed it’s not under new ownership and that no changes have been made that would warrant a change to its application.

To be sure, the structure of Nu Dot Co’s application would allow for another company to fund its participation in the .web auction. That, and the fact that Nu Dot Co opted for an ICANN auction rather than a private auction in which the losers split the proceeds, seem to be what Donuts is upset about.

Had the auction been private, Donuts would stand to walk away with millions in cash. (Based on Donuts’ strategy and bidding history, I don’t think it will enter the .web auction with plans to win. It has a portfolio approach, not investing a lot into marketing any individual TLD. The generic .Web is the type of domain that will need some marketing muscle behind it.)

ICANN claims that Donuts’ emergency request is an emergency of its own making. It also calls out Donuts for not serving it with the lawsuit even three days after filing its emergency request.

ICANN summarizes its response by stating:

To put it simply, whether Nu Dotco changed ownership or management is a yes or no question. After a reasonable investigation, ICANN determined that the answer is no. Now, Nu Dotco’s managers have
declared the same under penalty of perjury.

It notes further:

Even if the answer were “yes,” the ordinary response would be to allow Nu Dotco to amend its application. And even if Nu Dotco had submitted a change request because it had undergone a change of control or ownership, it would not have been disqualified from the auction set to take place on July 27, 2016. (Willett Decl. ¶ 11.) In fact, a large number of applications have made a change the questions pertaining to ownership or control of the applicant, and no application has been disqualified to date over one of these changes. (Willett Decl. ¶ 11.) The Auction Rules also provide that “ICANN reserves the right . . . to postpone a scheduled Auction if a change request by one or more applicants in the Contention Set is pending, but believes that in most instances the Auction should be able to
proceed without further delay.” (Zecchini Decl., Ex. C ¶ 8 (emphasis added).)

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