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[ga] What is ICANN doing to make sure that the UDRP providers are truly neutral?

  • To: ga@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: [ga] What is ICANN doing to make sure that the UDRP providers are truly neutral?
  • From: George Kirikos <gkirikos@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 14 Oct 2009 09:18:20 -0700 (PDT)

Hi folks,

There was a very good article in the Wall Street Journal today discussing the 
turmoil in the arbitration world, in particular with NAF:


"Banks "don't need the taint that comes with mandatory arbitration."

"While telling consumers that it was an impartial arbitrator, NAF worked 
closely with creditors, the regulator claimed, including drafting claims 
against consumers."

"Former arbitrators, a congressional subcommittee, consumers and government 
suits are now alleging that NAF has been systematically ruling against 
consumers for years."

"A congressional subcommittee, which began an investigation last year to study 
the fairness of mandatory arbitration, concluded in July that the current 
arbitration system is "ripe for abuse." Arbitration, as "operated by NAF, does 
not provide protection for those consumers," the committee said."

"Before that case, she had ruled in favor of credit-card companies 18 
consecutive times, she told the committee. She says she finished several 
pending NAF cases after she ruled for the card holder, but then wasn't given 
more cases. The official reason the NAF gave for canceling more work was 
scheduling conflicts. But Ms. Bartholet said in an interview that an NAF 
manager told her she was likely removed because she ruled for the debtor."

In light of this, what is ICANN doing to ensure that UDRP is conducted in a 
neutral manner? Ideally it should be optional, unless *both* parties agree to 
it (i.e. parties should be permitted to choose the courts, a superior method 
for complex matters, if they feel it is appropriate).

We have had NAF openly admit (in their IRT comments) that:


"Panelists have taken the opportunity, over time, to agree with those 
complainants and broaden the scope of the UDRP, but it started out as a 
mechanism only for clear cut cases of cybersquatting."

It's clearly in the financial interests of UDRP providers (and panelists) to 
continue to expand the scope of cases and tilt their decisions towards 
complainants in order to encourage more complaints overall, and more complaints 
that involve either themselves as panelists or their UDRP provider ("forum 
shopping"). This represents a perversion of the system of justice that domain 
registrants rely upon.

ICANN staff and the GSNO should prepare an issues report, and perhaps fund 
independent scholarly research like that conducted by Professor Michael Geist 
in the past:



George Kirikos

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