After months of protracted legal wrangling, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) ruled that OK Kosher owns the rights to dole out all dot-kosher web addresses. That move was fought by 11 other kosher food supervision kashrut agencies, including the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU), the world’s largest kosher certifier.
Some of the many kosher supervision seals
Chabad-Controlled OK Kosher Gets Sole Control Over .Kosher Domain Names, Despite Objections From OU And Many Other American Kosher Supervisors
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
After months of protected legal wrangling, in January the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) ruled that OK Kosher owns the rights to dole out all dot-kosher web addresses. That move was fought by 11 other kosher food supervision kashrut agencies, including the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU), the world’s largest kosher certifier, the Jewish Week reported.
The OU and the 10 other kosher certifiers who fought ICANN’s decision giving .kosher to the OK gives it an unfair competitive advantage in the market. No one should own the word kosher, they claim.
Even so, ICANN says that doesn’t mean nobody can own .kosher.
“There is today no serious ground for the accusation that the Application is designed to confer ‘monopoly status’ on [OK Kosher] over ‘.kosher’ domain names and to permit [OK Kosher] to engage in ‘exclusionary practices,’” ICANN’s expert found.
ICANN is apparently unaware of decades of fighting between the OK – which is Chabad owned and which has allegedly repeatedly used predatory practices to gain clients according to industry insiders – and nearly every other kosher supervision working in the US.
To get ownership of .kosher, the OK reportedly paid ICANN a $185,000 application fee and will have to pay a yearly $25,000 renewal fee.
Rabbi Don Yoel Levy, OK’s CEO, claims the OK bought .kosher to keep it out of the hands of a businessman it knew wanted to buy it.
“We felt it should be in the hands of a kashrus institution. We purchased it to make sure it fell into the right hands. We’re willing to share with everybody,” Levy told the paper.
The OU’s COO, Rabbi Moshe Elefant, says Levy isn’t telling the whole truth.
While the OK was willing to share, it was only willing to share a little bit.
For example, the value of owning the rights to .kosher is the ability to decide who can and who cannot own domain names within it – for example, who can own and use “restaurant.kosher,” Elefant said.
The OK wanted to keep the rights to 20 of these .kosher domain names, but refused to tell the OU and the other agencies what those 20 .kosher domain names were, Elefant said. “They did come back to us with a proposal for partnership, but it wasn’t an equal partnership,” he added.
When a compromise could not be reached, both sides’ attorneys reportedly instructed their clients to get co-signatories for their briefs.
The OU got 11. The Jewish Week reports the OK claims it got 45 backers, “including the kosher agencies of Sydney and Melbourne and the chief rabbinates of Russia and South Africa” – all of whom, except South Africa, are controlled by Chabad. It is likely the other 41 signatories are predominantly Chabad.
Inexplicably, the Jewish Week does not report that the OK is owned and run by Chabad followers or that any of these other agencies are Chabad – despite the fact that this is a major part of this story. It also did not report that the OU was joined by, among others, the Star-K, Kof-K, CRC of Chicago and the Kashruth Council of Canada – the largest supervisions in the world other than the OU itself and the OK – in its legal action against the OK.
The OU’s coalition reportedly paid about $100,000 in fees to ICANN and to its lawyers to fight the OK monopoly and have filed a request for reconsideration with ICANN. They are also reportedly still trying to negotiate with the OK through their attorney, and Elefant reportedly said the OK’s attorney wants a new proposal in writing, which the OU and its allies will send soon, he said.