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.Jobs Dispute In Cooperative Engagement Phase

by Mar 18, 2011, 4:06 pm ET

The registrar of the .Jobs domain has invoked the “cooperative engagement” provision of its contract to resolve a dispute over its handling of .Jobs Internet addresses.

In a letter sent to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers on February 28th, but just recently made public, Employ Media called for quick action on the matter.

“It goes without saying that all of us here at Employ Media, and indeed many in the international human resource management community, are extremely surprised and disappointed with ICANN’s complete reversal of position in this matter,” the letter says.

Sent by Employ Media’s general counsel Brian Johnson, the letter goes on to say the registrar is “specifically disappointed with ICANN’s decision to publicly defame Employ Media and its contractual partners…”

The matter the letter refers to is a notice of breach of contract ICANN sent to Employ Media on Feb. 27th. In it ICANN, the Internet’s addressing authority, sharply criticized both Employ Media and its partner, the Society for Human Resource Management, over how .jobs addresses are issued.

The breach notice said SHRM and Employ Media adopted rules for assigning .jobs address that are so “loose” they “appear to exclusively serve the financial interests of Employ Media and SHRM.”

At the time, SHRM issued a terse statement saying it was surprised at ICANN’s notice, adding, “We need to get clarification from ICANN before making any further comment on this matter.”

Today, responding to a request regarding a follow-up, a SHRM spokeswoman emailed, “We’re continuing to review the notice.”

Under the terms of the ICANN contract, either ICANN or Employ Media can compel arbitration of the dispute. First, however, both sides have to seek to resolve the issues cooperatively. That’s the cooperative engagement provision that Johnson’s letter invoked.

I’ve contacted both ICANN and Employ Media regarding the status of the process, but have not yet had a response. When I do, I’ll update this post.

At a minimum, both sides should have had an initial conference call and may have met face-to-face. The cooperative engagement provision in the contract has quick time periods, although they can be mutually extended.

Johnson’s letter appears to anticipate that the cooperative process may be unsuccessful and that the parties will have to arbitrate the issue. “We expressly reserve the right to address these matters in any appropriate forum,” he says, calling on the organization to preserve all notes, communications, and other materials relating to .Jobs.

He concludes his letter with a shot obviously directed at the .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition, which has been challenging changes in the handling of .jobs addresses since last year.

“This is a sad day for both the Internet community and the international human resource management community.” Johnson says.” ICANN should be promoting competition and working cooperatively with its contractual parties, but instead is choosing to ignore the plain meaning of its contract with Employ Media in order to appease some apparently well‐financed and well‐connected provocateurs.”

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.