Post-Delegation Disputes on new extensions: Understanding the Public Interest Commitments Dispute Resolution Procedure in 5 questions

consulting2Three post-delegation dispute resolution procedures (PDDRP)for the new extensions have been implemented :

  • The TM-PDDRP on trademark infringement;
  • The RRDRP which comes into play when the registry of a new community extension goes beyond the restrictions contained in its registry agreement;
  • The PICDRP.


The Public Interest Commitments Dispute Resolution Procedure (PICDRP) was developed to ensure the compliance of the registries with the commitments undertaken in their registry agreement with ICANN.


What does the procedure sanction?

By signing the registry agreement with ICANN, companies applying for new domain name extensions subjected themselves to numerous technical, financial and legal obligations. The duty to comply with public interest commitments (PICs) as well as the duty to comply with Specification 11 of the registry agreement (see below) form part of these obligations. The PICDRP therefore sanctions the registries’ non-compliance with their commitments in this respect.


Like all post-delegation dispute resolution procedures, the PICDRP sanctions the very behavior of the extension registry. It thus differs significantly from the UDRP procedure, for instance, which targets domain names registrants.


What are PICs?

As from March 5, 2013, applicants for new gTLDs were given twenty-eight days to make public interest commitments. They were thus afforded the opportunity to specifically define the commitments they intended to take (or not), either by referring to their application file, or by undertaking completely new obligations.


For example, Donuts Inc, the applicant with the largest number of filed applications, undertook that the domain name .lawyer be only open to legal professionals, with a view to protecting consumers. Donuts may thus be liable if it decides to make the .lawyer extension accessible to all internet users.


“These are commitments made to the community, to governments, and to all those who could oppose applications – they are not commitments to ICANN,” said the President of the Global Domains Division at ICANN, Akram Atallah, at the time. And of course, it is these same commitments that the PICRDP will sanction in the event of non-compliance.


What is Specification 11?

Inserted in the registry agreements entered into with ICANN, Specification 11 requires registry operators of new gTLDs inter alia not to impose eligibility criteria for the registration of domain names which would limit the registrations to a single person/entity or affiliated persons/entities.


Specification 11 results from the opinions emanating from the GAC, the ICANN body representing governments. The GAC had identified gTLDs reflecting regulated or restricted industries, as well as generic extensions which applicants wish to make exclusive use of (known as “closed generic TLDs”). The GAC thus made several proposals in an effort to protect public interest in relation to these extensions which took the form of Specification 11. This document is attached to the registry agreement.


The obligation of registries to sign the RAA 2013 (the latest version of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement) with the registrars or that to publish and comply with the registration rules are also included in Specification 11.


What is the procedure?

The PICDRP is the mechanism through which ICANN intends to enforce public interest commitments. Any person who deems that PICs or provisions of Specification 11 have not been complied with by an extension registry can lodge a complaint with ICANN stating:

–       The basis of the complaint;

–       The way in which the registry did not comply with its commitments;

–       The resulting loss.


After a preliminary assessment, ICANN forwards the complaint to the relevant extension registry. The latter then has 30 days to liaise with the complainant and try to find a solution. Beyond this deadline, the registry will have to explain to ICANN how it complies with public interest commitments. ICANN will have investigation powers and, at its sole discretion, will have the power to appoint three experts who will investigate and assess whether the registry has breached its commitments. If the behavior of the registry does not comply with the PICs or Specification 11, ICANN may require it to take corrective measures within 30 days and could thereafter adopt measures culminating in the termination of the registry agreement.


Which TLDs does the procedure apply to?

The PICDRP is solely intended for new domain name extensions. Therefore, neither national extensions known as ccTLDs (such as .fr or .uk) nor traditional gTLDs (such as .com, .info, .net or .org) are covered.


Dreyfus specializes in the resolution of Internet disputes, particularly in relation to new domain name extensions. Please do not hesitate to contact us for any queries.