One of the longest-running fights over a new gTLD may be over, after three unsuccessful applicants for .hotel appeared to throw in the towel on their four-year-old legal fight with ICANN.
In a document quietly posted by ICANN last week, the Independent Review Process panel handling the .hotel case accepted a joint request from ICANN and applicants Fegistry, Radix and Domain Venture Partners to close the case.
The applicants lawyers had told ICANN they were “withdrawing all of their claims” and the panel terminated the case “with prejudice”.
They had been fighting to get ICANN to overturn its decision to award .hotel to HOTEL Top-Level-Domain (HTLD), formerly affiliated with Afilias, which had won a controversial Community Priority Evaluation.
CPE was a process under the 2012 new gTLD program rules that allowed applicants in contention sets to avoid an auction if they could show sufficient “community” support for their bids, which HTLD managed to do.
The Fegistry complaint was the second IRP to focus on this decision, which was perceived as unfair and inconsistent with other CPE cases. The first ran from 2015 to 2016 and led to an ICANN win.
Part of the complaints focused on allegations that an HTLD executive improperly accessed private information on competing applicants using a vulnerability in ICANN’s applications portal.
The IRP complainants had also sued in Los Angeles Superior Court, but that case was thrown out in July due to the covenant not to sue (CNTS) that all new gTLD applicants had to agree to when they applied.
The fight for .hotel had been going on for longer than that for .web, but unlike .web it appears that this fight may finally be over.