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Judge gives .AFRICA the green light to proceed

As previously reported here, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has been sued by the disgruntled new generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) applicant, DotConnectAfrica, in order to prevent the delegation of the new gTLD .AFRICA.  DotConnectAfrica alleged that a rival application for .AFRICA, which was filed by ZA Central Registry (ZACR), was fraudulent and sought monetary damages from ICANN.

As reported here, DotConnectAfrica had filed a series of legal actions against ZACR and ICANN to prevent the delegation of the .AFRICA gTLD to ZACR.  The latest of these actions was an ex parte temporary restraining order requesting that the court prevent ICANN from delegating .AFRICA.  While the request for an immediate temporary restraining order was rejected, the court did agree to hear DotConnectAfrica’s new arguments.

However, a judge has now issued a ruling denying DotConnectAfrica’s request for an injunction to prevent ICANN from delegating the .AFRICA gTLD. As a result of this, .AFRICA was delegated to the Domain Name System (DNS) root on 15 February 2017.

While the judge did not issue a ruling on the merits of DotConnectAfrica’s claims of fraudulent conduct by ICANN in the new gTLD evaluation processes for the .AFRICA .gTLD, the judge found that DotConnectAfrica would be unlikely to win its lawsuit on the basis that DotConnectAfrica effectively signed away the right to sue ICANN over the new gTLD program when they applied for a new gTLD as per the “Top-Level Domain Application – Terms and Conditions” set out in the New gTLD Applicant Guidebook (AGB).

The judge also ruled that Africans were suffering harm from not having the .AFRICA gTLD delegated and being able to register .AFRICA domain names. Addressing the question of what would happen in the event that DotConnectAfrica did prevail in its litigation against ICANN, the judge commented that there would be nothing to prevent ICANN from re-delegating .AFRICA to DotConnectAfrica.  As such, the judge ruled that it was in the public interest to allow ICANN to proceed to delegate .AFRICA to ZACR.

Thus .AFRICA is now live in the DNS root and interested parties can visit the official Registry homepage by clicking here.  While DotConnectAfrica’s litigation against ICANN will continue through the courts, it seems that for the moment, the launch of .AFRICA is underway and that the people of Africa will finally get to register and use domain names under this unique gTLD.

If you would like any further information regarding the launch and the registration of domain names under .AFRICA, please contact David Taylor.

First published on Anchovy News: Anchovy® is our a comprehensive and centralised online brand protection service for global domain name strategy, including new gTLDs together with portfolio management and global enforcement using a unique and exclusive online platform developed in-house.