Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

Qualification Challenge Rules

These Qualification Challenge Rules apply uniformly to Qualification Challenge Policy proceedings administered by all approved Providers.

Administrative proceedings for the resolution of disputes under the Qualification Challenge Policy adopted by ICANN shall be governed by these Qualification Challenge Rules and also the Supplemental Rules of the Qualification Challenge Provider administering the proceedings, as posted on its site.

1. Definitions. In these Rules:

"Registered Item" means a Registered Name or a Standard Defensive Registration as defined in the Registry Agreement between the Registry Operator and ICANN.

"Qualification Challenger" means the party initiating a complaint concerning a Registered Item.

"Registration Requirements" means the requirements for registration of a Registered Item as established in or according to Appendix L to the Registry Agreement between ICANN and the Registry Operator.

"ICANN" refers to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

"Mutual Jurisdiction" means a court jurisdiction at the location of either (a) the principal office of the Registrar, (b) New York, U.S.A., or (c) the Registered Item holder's address as shown for the registration of the Registered Item in Registry Operator's Whois database at the time the complaint is submitted to the Qualification Challenge Provider.

"Panel" means an administrative panel appointed by a Qualification Challenge Provider to decide a complaint concerning a Registered Item.

"Panelist" means an individual appointed by a Provider to be a member of a Panel.

"Party" means a Qualification Challenger or a Respondent.

"Qualification Challenge Policy" means the Qualification Challenge Policy that is incorporated by reference and made a part of the Registration Agreement.

"Qualification Challenge Provider" means a dispute-resolution service provider that is approved by ICANN upon consultation with Registry Operator. A list of such Providers appears at <http://www.icann.org/dndr/proqcp/approved-providers.htm>.

"Standard Defensive Registration" has the meaning set forth in section 2.5 of Appendix L of the Registry Agreement between ICANN and the Registry Operator.

"Registrar" means the entity with which the Respondent has registered a Registered Item that is the subject of a complaint.

"Registration Agreement" means the agreement between a Registrar and a Registered Item holder.

"Registry Operator" means the entity that, pursuant to a Registry Agreement with ICANN, operates the registry for the .pro TLD.

"Respondent" means the holder of a Registered Item against which a complaint is initiated.

"Reverse Registered Item Hijacking" means using the Qualification Challenge Policy in bad faith to attempt to deprive a Registered Item holder of a Registered Item.

"Supplemental Rules" means the rules adopted by the Qualification Challenge Provider and approved by ICANN administering a proceeding to supplement these Qualification Challenge Rules. Supplemental Rules shall not be inconsistent with the Qualification Challenge Policy or these Qualification Challenge Rules and shall cover such topics as fees, word and page limits and guidelines, the means for communicating with the Qualification Challenge Provider and the Panel, and the form of cover sheets.

2. Communications.

a. When forwarding a complaint to the Respondent, it shall be the Qualification Challenge Provider's responsibility to employ reasonably available means calculated to achieve actual notice to Respondent. Achieving actual notice, or employing the following measures to do so, shall discharge this responsibility:

(i) sending the complaint to all postal-mail and facsimile addresses (A) shown in the Registered Item data in Registry Operator's Whois database for the registration holder, the technical contact, and the administrative contact and (B) supplied by Registrar to the Provider for the registration's billing contact; and

(ii) sending the complaint in electronic form (including annexes to the extent available in that form) by e-mail to:

(1) the e-mail addresses for the registration holder and the technical, administrative, and billing contacts of the Registered Item;

(2) postmaster@<the contested domain name>; and

(3) if the domain name (or "www." followed by the domain name) resolves to an active web page (other than a generic page which the Qualification Challenge Provider concludes is maintained by a registrar or ISP for parking domain names registered by multiple domain name holders), any e-mail address shown or e-mail links on that web page.

(iii) sending the complaint to any address the Respondent has notified the Qualification Challenge Provider it prefers and, to the extent practicable, to all other addresses provided to such Provider by Qualification Challenger under Paragraph 3(b)(v).

b. Except as provided in Paragraph 2(a), any written communication to the Qualification Challenger or Respondent provided for under these Qualification Challenge Rules shall be made by the preferred means stated by the Qualification Challenger or Respondent, respectively (see Paragraphs 3(b)(iii) and 5(b)(iii)), or in the absence of such specification

(i) by telecopy or facsimile transmission, with a confirmation of transmission; or

(ii) by postal or courier service, postage pre-paid and return receipt requested; or

(iii) electronically via the Internet, provided a record of its transmission is available.

c. Any communication to the Qualification Challenge Provider or the Panel shall be made by the means and in the manner (including number of copies) stated in the Provider's Supplemental Rules.

d. Communications shall be made in the language prescribed in Paragraph 11. E-mail communications should, if practicable, be sent in plaintext.

e. Either Party may update its contact details by notifying the Qualification Challenge Provider and the Registrar.

f. Except as otherwise provided in these Qualification Challenge Rules, or decided by a Panel, all communications provided for under these Qualification Challenge Rules shall be deemed to have been made:

(i) if delivered by telecopy or facsimile transmission, on the date shown on the confirmation of transmission; or

(ii) if by postal or courier service, on the date marked on the receipt; or

(iii) if via the Internet, on the date that the communication was transmitted, provided that the date of transmission is verifiable.

g. Except as otherwise provided in these Qualification Challenge Rules, all time periods calculated under these Rules that are to begin when a communication is made shall begin to run on the earliest date that the communication is deemed to have been made in accordance with Paragraph 2(f).

h. Any communication by

(i) a Panel to any Party shall be copied to the Qualification Challenge Provider and to the other Party;

(ii) the Qualification Challenge Provider to any Party shall be copied to the other Party; and

(iii) a Party shall be copied to the other Party, the Panel and the Qualification Challenge Provider, as the case may be.

i. It shall be the responsibility of the sender to retain records of the fact and circumstances of sending, which shall be available for inspection by affected parties and for reporting purposes.

j. In the event a Party sending a communication receives notification of non-delivery of the communication, the Party shall promptly notify the Panel (or, if no Panel is yet appointed, the Qualification Challenge Provider) of the circumstances of the notification. Further proceedings concerning the communication and any response shall be as directed by the Panel (or the Qualification Challenge Provider).

3. The Complaint.

a. Any person or entity may initiate an administrative proceeding by submitting a complaint in accordance with the Qualification Challenge Policy and these Qualification Challenge Rules to any Qualification Challenge Provider. (Due to capacity constraints or for other reasons, a Qualification Challenge Provider's ability to accept complaints may be suspended at times. In that event, the Provider shall refuse the submission. The person or entity may submit the complaint to another Qualification Challenge Provider.)

b. The complaint shall be submitted in hard copy and (except to the extent not available for annexes) in electronic form and shall:

(i) Request that the complaint be submitted for decision in accordance with the Qualification Challenge Policy and these Qualification Challenge Rules;

(ii) Provide the name, postal and e-mail addresses, and the telephone and telefax numbers of the Qualification Challenger and of any representative authorized to act for the Qualification Challenger in the administrative proceeding;

(iii) Specify a preferred method for communications directed to the Qualification Challenger in the administrative proceeding (including person to be contacted, medium, and address information) for each of (A) electronic-only material and (B) material including hard copy;

(iv) Designate whether Qualification Challenger elects to have the dispute decided by a single-member or a three-member Panel and, in the event Qualification Challenger elects a three-member Panel, provide the names and contact details of three candidates to serve as one of the Panelists (these candidates may be drawn from any Qualification Challenge Provider's list of panelists);

(v) Provide the name of the Respondent and all information (including any postal and e-mail addresses and telephone and telefax numbers) known to Qualification Challenger regarding how to contact Respondent or any representative of Respondent, including contact information based on pre-complaint dealings, in sufficient detail to allow the Qualification Challenge Provider to send the complaint as described in Paragraph 2(a);

(vi) Specify the Registered Item that is the subject of the complaint;

(vii) Identify the Registrar with whom the Registered Item is registered at the time the complaint is filed;

(viii) Specify the Registered Item on which the complaint is based;

(ix) Identify the basis of the challenge, including a description of the manner in which the Registered Item does not satisfy the Registration Requirements. (The description should discuss any aspects of the Qualification Challenge Policy that are applicable and shall comply with any word or page limit set forth in the Qualification Challenge Provider's Supplemental Rules)

(x) Specify, in accordance with the Qualification Challenge Policy, the remedies sought;

(xi) Identify any other legal proceedings that have been commenced or terminated in connection with or relating to the Registered Item that is the subject of the complaint;

(xii) State that a copy of the complaint, together with the cover sheet as prescribed by the Qualification Challenge Provider's Supplemental Rules, has been sent or transmitted to the Respondent, in accordance with Paragraph 2(b);

(xiii) State that Qualification Challenger will submit, with respect to any challenges to a decision in the administrative proceeding canceling or transferring the Registered Item, to the jurisdiction of the courts in at least one specified Mutual Jurisdiction;

(xiv) Conclude with the following statement followed by the signature of the Qualification Challenger or its authorized representative:

"Qualification Challenger agrees that its claims and remedies concerning the registration of the Registered Item or the dispute's resolution shall be solely against the Respondent and waives all such claims and remedies against (a) the Qualification Challenge Provider and Panelist(s), except in the case of deliberate wrongdoing, (b) the Registrar, (c) the Registry Operator, and (d) ICANN, as well as their directors, officers, employees, and agents."

"Qualification Challenger certifies that the information contained in this Complaint is to the best of Qualification Challenger's knowledge complete and accurate, that this complaint is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, and that the assertions in this complaint are warranted under these Rules and under applicable law, as it now exists or as it may be extended by a good-faith and reasonable argument."; and

(xv) Annex any documentary or other evidence, including a copy of the Qualification Challenge Policy applicable to the Registered Item in dispute and any evidence of the Qualification Challenger's qualification to register the Registered Item under the Qualification Requirements, upon which the complaint relies, together with a schedule indexing such evidence.

c. The complaint may relate to more than one Registered Item, provided that the Registered Items are registered by the same holder.

4. Notification of Complaint.

a. The Qualification Challenge Provider shall review the complaint for administrative compliance with the Qualification Challenge Policy and these Qualification Challenge Rules and, if in compliance, shall forward the complaint (together with the explanatory cover sheet prescribed by the Qualification Challenge Provider's Supplemental Rules) to the Respondent, in the manner prescribed by Paragraph 2(a), within five calendar days following receipt of the fees to be paid by the Qualification Challenger in accordance with Paragraph 19.

b. If the Qualification Challenge Provider finds the complaint to be administratively deficient, it shall promptly notify the Qualification Challenger and the Respondent of the nature of the deficiencies identified. The Qualification Challenger shall have five (5) calendar days within which to correct any such deficiencies, after which the administrative proceeding will be deemed withdrawn without prejudice to submission of a different complaint by Qualification Challenger.

c. The date of commencement of the administrative proceeding shall be the date on which the Provider completes its responsibilities under Paragraph 2(a) in connection with forwarding the Complaint to the Respondent.

d. The Qualification Challenge Provider shall immediately (and in no event later than within three calendar days) notify the Qualification Challenger, the Respondent, the concerned Registrar(s), the Registry Operator, and ICANN of the date of commencement of the administrative proceeding. The Registrar shall place the Registered Item on Registrar Lock (whereby such Registered Item cannot be transferred to another holder or another registrar during the course of these proceedings). Registrar shall notify Registry Operator immediately (and in no event later than within three (3) calendar days) upon executing Registrar Lock.

5. The Response.

a. Within twenty-one (21) calendar days after the date of commencement of the administrative proceeding, the Respondent shall submit a response to the Qualification Challenge Provider.

b. The response shall be submitted in hard copy and (except to the extent not available for annexes) in electronic form and shall:

(i) Provide evidence of the Respondent's compliance with the Registration Requirements, including:

Continued good standing or licensure in the profession corresponding to the PS-SLD in question and Licensing Jurisdiction in which the Registrant claimed to be licensed or accredited to provide professional services;

(These portions of the response shall comply with any word or page limit set forth in the Provider's Supplemental Rules)

(ii) Provide the name, postal and e-mail addresses, and the telephone and telefax numbers of the Respondent and of any representative authorized to act for the Respondent in the administrative proceeding;

(iii) Specify a preferred method for communications directed to the Respondent in the administrative proceeding (including person to be contacted, medium, and address information) for each of (A) electronic-only material and (B) material including hard copy;

(iv) If Qualification Challenger has elected a single-member panel in the Complaint (see Paragraph 3(b)(iv)), state whether Respondent elects instead to have the dispute decided by a three-member panel;

(v) If either Qualification Challenger or Respondent elects a three-member Panel, provide the names and contact details of three candidates to serve as one of the Panelists (these candidates may be drawn from any Qualification Challenge Provider's list of panelists);

(vi) Identify any other legal proceedings that have been commenced or terminated in connection with or relating to any of the Registered Item(s) that are the subject of the complaint;

(vii) State that a copy of the response has been sent or transmitted to the Qualification Challenger, in accordance with Paragraph 2(b); and

(viii) Conclude with the following statement followed by the signature of the Respondent or its authorized representative:

"Respondent certifies that the information contained in this Response is to the best of Respondent's knowledge complete and accurate, that this Response is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, and that the assertions in this Response are warranted under these Rules and under applicable law, as it now exists or as it may be extended by a good-faith and reasonable argument."; and

(ix) Annex any documentary or other evidence upon which the Respondent relies, together with a schedule indexing such documents.

c. If Qualification Challenger has elected to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel and Respondent elects a three-member Panel, Respondent shall be required to pay one-half of the applicable fee for a three-member Panel as set forth in the Provider's Supplemental Rules. This payment shall be made together with the submission of the response to the Qualification Challenge Provider. In the event that the required payment is not made, the dispute shall be decided by a single-member Panel.

d. At the request of the Respondent, the Qualification Challenge Provider may, in exceptional cases, extend the period of time for the filing of the response. The period may also be extended by written stipulation between the Parties, provided the stipulation is approved by the Qualification Challenge Provider.

e. If a Respondent does not submit a response, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, the Qualification Challenge Panel shall decide the dispute based upon the complaint.

6. Appointment of the Panel and Timing of Decision.

a. Each Qualification Challenge Provider shall maintain and publish a publicly available list of any professions, countries or languages for which they are able to provide panelists and hear disputes.

b. If neither the Qualification Challenger nor the Respondent has elected a three-member Panel (Paragraphs 3(b)(iv) and 5(b)(iv)), the Qualification Challenge Provider shall appoint, within five calendar days following receipt of the response by the Qualification Challenge Provider, or the lapse of the time period for the submission thereof, a single Panelist from its list of panelists.

c. If either the Qualification Challenger or the Respondent elects to have the dispute decided by a three-member Panel, the Qualification Challenge Provider shall appoint three Panelists in accordance with the procedures identified in Paragraph 6(e).

d. Unless it has already done so under Paragraph 3(b)(iv), the Qualification Challenger shall submit to the Qualification Challenge Provider, within five calendar days after communication of a response in which the Respondent elects a three-member Panel, the names and contact details of three candidates to serve as one of the Panelists. These candidates may be drawn from any Qualification Challenge Provider's list of panelists.

e. In the event that either the Qualification Challenger or the Respondent elects a three-member Panel, the Qualification Challenge Provider shall endeavor to appoint one Panelist from the list of candidates provided by each of the Qualification Challenger and the Respondent. In the event the Qualification Challenge Provider is unable within five calendar days to secure the appointment of a Panelist on its customary terms from either Party's list of candidates, the Qualification Challenge Provider shall make that appointment from its list of panelists. The third Panelist shall be appointed by the Qualification Challenge Provider from a list of five candidates submitted by the Qualification Challenge Provider to the Parties, the Qualification Challenge Provider's selection from among the five being made in a manner that reasonably balances the preferences of both Parties, as they may specify to the Qualification Challenge Provider within five calendar days after the Qualification Challenge Provider's submission of the five-candidate list to the Parties.

f. Once the entire Panel is appointed, the Qualification Challenge Provider shall notify the Parties of the Panelists appointed and the date by which, absent exceptional circumstances, the Panel shall forward its decision on the complaint to the Qualification Challenge Provider.

7. Impartiality and Independence.

A Panelist shall be impartial and independent and shall have, before accepting appointment, disclosed to the Qualification Challenge Provider any circumstances giving rise to justifiable doubt as to the Panelist's impartiality or independence. If, at any stage during the administrative proceeding, new circumstances arise that could give rise to justifiable doubt as to the impartiality or independence of the Panelist, that Panelist shall promptly disclose such circumstances to the Qualification Challenge Provider. In such event, the Qualification Challenge Provider shall have the discretion to appoint a substitute Panelist.

8. Communication Between Parties and the Panel.

No Party or anyone acting on its behalf may have any unilateral communication with the Panel. All communications between a Party and the Panel or the Qualification Challenge Provider shall be made to a case administrator appointed by the Qualification Challenge Provider in the manner prescribed in the Qualification Challenge Provider's Supplemental Rules.

9. Transmission of the File to the Panel.

The Qualification Challenge Provider shall forward the file to the Panel as soon as the Panelist is appointed in the case of a Panel consisting of a single member, or as soon as the last Panelist is appointed in the case of a three-member Panel.

10. General Powers of the Panel.

a. The Panel shall conduct the administrative proceeding in such manner as it considers appropriate in accordance with the Qualification Challenge Policy and these Qualification Challenge Rules.

b. In all cases, the Panel shall ensure that the Parties are treated with equality and that each Party is given a fair opportunity to present its case.

c. The Panel shall ensure that the administrative proceeding takes place with due expedition. It may, at the request of a Party or on its own motion, extend, in exceptional cases, a period of time fixed by these Qualification Challenge Rules or by the Panel.

d. The Panel shall determine the admissibility, relevance, materiality, and weight of the evidence.

e. A Panel shall decide a request by a Party to consolidate multiple Registered Item disputes in accordance with the Qualification Challenge Policy and these Qualification Challenge Rules.

11. Language of Proceedings.

a. Unless otherwise agreed by the Parties, or specified otherwise in the Registration Agreement, the language of the administrative proceeding shall be the language of the Registration Agreement, subject to the authority of the Panel to determine otherwise, having regard to the circumstances of the administrative proceeding.

b. The Panel may order that any documents submitted in languages other than the language of the administrative proceeding be accompanied by a translation in whole or in part into the language of the administrative proceeding.

12. Further Statements.

In addition to the complaint and the response, the Panel may request, in its sole discretion, further statements or documents from either of the Parties.

13. In-Person Hearings.

There shall be no in-person hearings (including hearings by teleconference, videoconference, and web conference), unless the Panel determines, in its sole discretion and as an exceptional matter, that such a hearing is necessary for deciding the complaint.

14. Default.

a. In the event that a Party, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, does not comply with any of the time periods established by these Qualification Challenge Rules or the Panel, the Panel shall proceed to a decision on the complaint.

b. If a Party, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, does not comply with any provision of, or requirement under, these Qualification Challenge Rules or any request from the Panel, the Panel shall draw such inferences therefrom as it considers appropriate.

15. Panel Decisions.

a. A Panel shall decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Qualification Challenge Policy, these Qualification Challenge Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.

b. Whenever possible, the Panel shall forward its decision on the complaint to the Qualification Challenge Provider within twenty-one calendar days after its appointment pursuant to Paragraph 6.

c. In the case of a three-member Panel, the Panel's decision shall be made by a majority.

d. The Panel's decision shall be in writing, provide the reasons on which it is based, indicate the date on which it was rendered and identify the name(s) of the Panelist(s).

e. Panel decisions and dissenting opinions shall normally comply with the guidelines as to length set forth in the Qualification Challenge Provider's Supplemental Rules. Any dissenting opinion shall accompany the majority decision. If the Panel concludes that the dispute is not within the scope of Paragraph 4(a) of the Qualification Challenge Policy, it shall so state. If after considering the submissions, the Panel finds that the complaint was brought in bad faith, for example in an attempt at Reverse Registered Item Hijacking or was brought primarily to harass the Registered Item holder, the Panel shall declare in its decision that the complaint was brought in bad faith and constitutes an abuse of the administrative proceeding.

f. If the Challenger has requested that the Registered Item be transferred in accordance with Paragraph 4 of the Policy, the Registry or Registrar shall provide the Challenger with an authorization code which will allow the Challenger to register the corresponding domain name and to update all Challenger Whois information, at the Registrar of its choice, within 21 days of the date on which the notification of the authorization is sent to the Challenger, provided that the Challenger meets all other applicable requirements for registering the domain name.

g. The Center shall publish the outcome of the case together with the names of the Challenger and the Respondent on a publicly accessible web site.

16. Communication of Decision to Parties.

a. Within three calendar days after receiving the decision from the Panel, the Qualification Challenge Provider shall communicate the full text of the decision to each Party, the concerned Registrar(s), Registry Operator, and ICANN. The concerned Registrar(s) shall immediately communicate to each Party, the Provider, Registry Operator, and ICANN the date for the implementation of the decision in accordance with the Policy.

b. Except if the Panel determines otherwise (see Paragraph 5(g) of the Qualification Challenge Policy), the Qualification Challenge Provider shall publish the full decision and the date of its implementation on a publicly accessible Qualification Challenge Provider site. In any event, the portion of any decision determining a complaint to have been brought in bad faith (see Paragraph 15(e) of these Qualification Challenge Rules) shall be published.

17. Settlement or Other Grounds for Termination.

a. If, before the Panel's decision, the Parties agree on a settlement, the Panel shall terminate the administrative proceeding.

b. If, before the Panel's decision is made, it becomes unnecessary or impossible to continue the administrative proceeding for any reason, the Panel shall terminate the administrative proceeding, unless a Party raises justifiable grounds for objection within a period of time to be determined by the Panel.

18. Effect of Court Proceedings.

a. In the event of any legal proceedings initiated prior to or during an administrative proceeding under these Qualification Challenge Rules in respect of a Registered Item that is the subject of the complaint, the Panel shall have the discretion to decide whether to suspend or terminate the administrative proceeding, or to proceed to a decision.

b. In the event that a Party initiates any legal proceedings during the pendency of an administrative proceeding under these Qualification Challenge Rules in respect of a Registered Item that is the subject of the complaint, it shall promptly notify the Panel and the Qualification Challenge Provider. See Paragraph 8 above.

19. Fees.

a. For administrative proceedings brought pursuant to Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy, the fees shall be paid as follows:

(i) The Qualification Challenger shall pay to the Qualification Challenge Provider an initial fixed fee, in accordance with the Qualification Challenge Provider's Supplemental Rules, within the time and in the amount required.

(ii) A Respondent electing under Paragraph 5(b)(iv) to have the dispute decided by a three-member Panel, rather than the single-member Panel elected by the Qualification Challenger, shall pay the Provider one-half the fixed fee for a three-member Panel. See Paragraph 5(c). In all other cases, the Qualification Challenger shall bear all of the Provider's fees, except as prescribed under Paragraph 19(e).

b. No action shall be taken by the Qualification Challenge Provider on a complaint until it has received from Qualification Challenger the fee in accordance with Paragraph 19(a)(i).

c. For fees owed by the Qualification Challenger in accordance with Paragraph 19(a)(i), if the Qualification Challenge Provider has not received the fee within ten calendar days after receiving the complaint, the complaint shall be deemed withdrawn and the administrative proceeding terminated.

d. For fees owed by the Respondent in accordance with Paragraph 19(a)(ii), if the Qualification Challenge Provider has not received the fee within ten calendar days after forwarding the complaint to the Respondent, Respondent shall be deemed to have defaulted. See Paragraph 14.

e. In exceptional circumstances, for example in the event an in-person hearing is held, the Qualification Challenge Provider shall request the Parties for the payment of additional fees, which shall be established in agreement with the Parties and the Panel.

20. Exclusion of Liability.

Except in the case of deliberate wrongdoing, neither the Qualification Challenge Provider nor a Panelist shall be liable to a Party for any act or omission in connection with any administrative proceeding under these Qualification Challenge Rules.

21. Amendments.

The version of these Qualification Challenge Rules in effect at the time of the submission of the complaint to the Qualification Challenge Provider shall apply to the administrative proceeding commenced thereby. These Qualification Challenge Rules may not be amended without the express written approval ICANN, which shall not be unreasonably withheld.

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