.web delay likely after Verisign rival files ICANN appeal

The .web gTLD appears unlikely to see the light of day any time soon, after the Afilias spin-off that came second to Verisign in the $135 million auction in 2016 kicked off another appeals process.

Altanovo, which is made up of bits of Afilias left over when Identity Digital acquired the company, has asked ICANN to enter a Cooperative Engagement Process, according to ICANN’s records.

The CEP is a form of mediation companies can force ICANN into when they have beef. It’s designed to avoid the relative expense of a full-on Independent Review Process. They usually result in an IRP anyway.

Altanovo made its request the same day ICANN announced that its board of directors had decided to take .web off hold and resume registry contract negotiations with Verisign, following Altanovo’s original, unsuccessful IRP.

Verisign yesterday said the move amounted to an “abuse of process” and “baseless procedural maneuvering”, likely to lead to “delay for delay’s sake”.

IRPs typically last years and cost many hundreds of thousands of dollars in panel fees, not counting each party’s lawyer fees.

Altanovo believes that Verisign broke ICANN’s new gTLD program rules when it bid for .web via a secret intermediary. Verisign has countered that its rival, then Afilias, broke the rules by trying to negotiate a private deal during the auction’s “black out” period.

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