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07|12|2007 09:18 am EDT

What does the ICANN proposal to protect IGOs mean for domains?

by Frank Michlick in Categories: ICANN / Policy

ICANN LogoMichael Collins, the new Executive Director of the Internet Commerce Association (ICA), examines the ICANN proposal to protect IGOs.

One old issue that returned is the question of who has the right to register the names of countries and names “of national or geographic significance”, including names and abbreviations of International Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs). This issue is being driven by the Government Advisory Committee (GAC), composed of national government representatives, which continues to hold all its meetings behind closed doors despite ICANN’s verbal commitment to greater transparency. The GAC and the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) ultimate goal is to allow governments, public authorities and IGOs to block all such names in new gTLDs “upon demand”, and to take domains that they consider “abusive” under a new Dispute Resolution Procedure that will give them substantially greater leverage than the current Uniform Dispute Resolution Process (UDRP). In short, their ultimate goal is to expand the DN dispute process far beyond the bounds of traditional trademark law while simultaneously undermining the rights of DN registrants.

This is a development that anyone investing in local/city domains should be keeping a close eye on, since it might affect your future rights to your domains. Another example where policy decisions can strongly affect our industry and an important reason to get involved in policy creation ourselves. Domains affected could include names like “germany.com”, “irs.com”, “whitehouse.com”, “president.com”, “deutschland.com” and the like. And maybe the definition is going to be even broader than this and will include holidays and names of famous people.

The proposed legislation seems to plan for disputes of this type to be handled outside the courts and normal WIPO processes. A registrant that lost their domain through this process, would only be able to appeal the decision via a new ICANN arbitration process that remains undefined today.

An example underlining this problem is the decision of the Berlin Court of Justice to take a name from a registrant who had registered the German version of “Czech Republic”.

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