What's Up with the URS?

More than three months after acknowledging challenges with its proposed Uniform Rapid Suspension system ("URS"), ICANN recently announced two important steps toward implementing this new domain name dispute procedure. Envisioned as a less-expensive and quicker alternative to the well-established Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("UDRP"), the URS has been criticized by trademark owners as well as domain name registrants. It is intended for use only in “clear cases of trademark abuse”  with no “open questions of fact.”

On October 3, ICANN will hold a webinar to address the fees for filing a URS complaint, after "[e]arly feedback from UDRP providers and others indicated that the cost of the URS procedure as written would be likely to exceed targets."

Previously, ICANN had said that it expected the filing fee to be about $300. (By comparison, WIPO's and NAF's filing fees for UDRP complaints begin at $1,500 and $1,300, respectively.)

The webinar is expected to address ways to make the targeted fees workable, or even subsidize them -- presumably with the intention of attracting existing UDRP service providers or others to offer URS services.

And, ICANN has issued a Request for Information ("RFI") from potential URS service providers. Notably, neither WIPO nor NAF (the leading UDRP service providers) -- or any other arbitration service, for that matter -- has publicly indicated interest in providing URS services.

The RFI is intended "to solicit responses from bidders and gather feedback that may be used to select one or more URS providers, or inform the development of a comprehensive RFP [Request for Proposal]."

The RFI states that "projected URS providers" will be published by February 28, 2013.

Of course, only time will tell how helpful these steps will be in making the URS a reality. In any event, given that ICANN has committed to having the URS in place before any of the new top-level domains are delegated (presumably sometime late next year), the clock on URS implementation is beginning to tick more loudly.