.Sport and .Rugby Control Mired In Appeal Process


Having more top-level Internet domains theoretically expands Web address possibilities for organizations beyond the traditional .com, .net and .org choices. If only it were that simple.

Some of the new domains are mired in bureaucratic red tape as different actors compete to manage them. For example, sports and rugby organizations can’t start establishing domain names under .sport and .rugby yet, because Donuts Inc. is still fighting to control them.

Donuts, the world’s largest domain name registry, lost its initial bid for the top-level domains at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) after objections from the sports community. But Donuts is appealing ICANN’s decision in what’s known as an independent review process (IRP) that is dragging on indefinitely.

Back in November, SportAccord (the umbrella organization for both Olympic and non-Olympic international sports federations) and the International Rugby Board asked the International Centre for Dispute Resolution, which is handling the review, to dismiss Donut’s IRP request. They argued that Donuts lacked standing and that the IRP was an “unwarranted, anticompetitive and illegitimate attempt to delay” the application process. 

ICANN issued a scheduling order last month aimed at moving the process along. According to ICANN, Donuts then went ahead and sought “all communications between ICANN and the International Chamber of Commerce that relate to any one of seven broadly framed topics,” as well as all documents “reflecting” such communications. That move has slowed the whole process down. ICANN says that Donuts’ requests are “exceptionally broad and inappropriate” and would “impose a massive burden on ICANN that would delay this already-delayed proceeding considerably further.”  

The latest development came on Aug. 8, when ICANN issued a revised scheduling order that includes a hearing to take place by telephone on Oct. 8. 

But even if that hearing occurs as planned, there’s no telling how long it will be before the independent review concludes. And if Donuts loses, it can file another appeal. So sports and rugby groups will have to content themselves with .com and .net for now.