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Alt root user suing ICANN over dot-Web

ION has wanted the gTLD since 2000

icann logo

A company called Image Online Design is suing ICANN over rights to the .Web gTLD, to try and prevent the Internet names administrator from giving the domain to anybody else.

According to DomainIncite, the basis of its complaint is that IOD has had an application for the domain rights in front of ICANN since its first “proof of concept” round, when it first began looking at broadening TLD availability in 2000. The company also claims ownership of .Web as a trademark, and offers .Web over alternate DNSs.

However, while ICANN has repeatedly stated that IOD’s application was never rejected, the complaint says the organisation is considering applications from seven companies, including Google and Afilias (which owns .org and .info).

The latter of those TLDs, IOD alleges, have a conflict of interest: luminary, Google Internet evangelist Vint Cerf is a former chair of the ICANN board; while Afilias also has links with the board via current chairman Steve Crocker (whose consulting firm, Shinkuro, is an investor in Afilias) and Bruce Tonkin, vice-chair, whose employer Melbourne IT has contracts with Afilias.

Furthermore, ICANN did not identify IOD as a .Web applicant. The company complains that allowing other applicants while its own application is still current is “improper, unlawful and inequitable”.

The case, filed in the US District Court in California, alleges (among other things) breach of contract, unfair dealing, and trademark infringement.

It’s the second lawsuit brought by an alternative root provider against ICANN in as many weeks, with Name.Space reportedly seeking to prevent ICANN from assigning TLDs that match roots in its alternative system and complaining that “insiders” have conspired against it. ®

Bootnote Thanks to the reader who pointed out that while IOD uses alternate roots to offer .Web domains, it does not operate the roots itself.

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