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06|27|2007 09:59 pm EDT

ICANN Puerto Rico – of Tortuous Tutorials.

by Adam Strong in Categories: ICANN / Policy, Legal Issues

I wasn’t at the ICANN meetings but after reading the transcript of the “tutorial” on domain tasting, I was pretty disappointed by what’s going on. It’s pretty clear at least one presenter got things off track. Representing the Business Constituency (BC), Maryiln Cade focused on what she called

“the harmful aspect, the dark side, . . . a scheme that is involving the abusive registration and exploitation of the rights of others.”

Her examples of this dark side included typos of the WIPO, FTC, U.S. Commerce Department and a famous politician. She goes for the heart-strings as well by pulling out examples of domains registered that relate to recent news stories such as the Virginia Tech shootings. None of these examples however clearly point to a domain being part of any domain tasting operation or how a tasting operation is harming the business constituency. These are typo domains and based on the whois records they’ve clearly been owned for an extended period of time. Why were these even used as examples? Reading further into the transcript, I wasn’t the only one thinking this. At the event it seems quite a few people lined up to question her presentation and attempts to confuse the issue.

Jay Westerdal did a good job questioning the misinformation and misguiding that appeared to be happening but Ms Cade continued to lump cybersquatting and tasting as the same thing. Sure a taster can be squatting but so can any registrant who decides to register a trademark infringing domain.

Jay Westerdal: Okay. And I’d like to say that domain parking or, actually, I would say this domain tasting thing, I’d like to see domain tasting end. So I applaud what PIR has done. . .

Marilyn Cade: I’m a skeptic that further charges (sic) are going to do anything about the exploitation of the names that are associated with brands, because the traffic is just to attractive.

Jay Westerdal: Marilyn, that’s a different subject. We’re talking about tasting.

Michael Palage from the same Business Constituency that Cade is a part of also seemed to rail on what he called “throwing out read meat” and a grand-standing presentation, pointing out how the examples given having nothing to do with tasting.

I pulled up the WHOIS, something you would appreciate, and that domain name, PatrickLeahy.com, was registered in 2003, assuming that Godaddy’s records are accurate, and I have not reason to not believe the accuracy of those records. So I think that really goes back to what Jay was talking about here is, you’ve kind of blurred tasting and cybersquatting together.

. . .what I think is important about these forums is not for people to grand stand or throw red meat, but, really, let’s try to solve the problem.

This is presentation was similar to one that Ms Cade made previously in the year with her comrades David Steele and Sarah Deutsch before the International Technology Association of America.

Surely tasting has increased the volume of domains that may be infringing on trademarks, however there are processes in place to stop cybersquatting and as enoms John Kane points out :

stopping this will not stop cybersquatting.

Corporations have within their power the ability to stop registrations of their mark one of 2 ways. Register the domains yourself before someone else does or use the legal means to stop them. There is already policy for this problem. Additionally, stopping the possibility of domain tasting does not necessarily mean that the registration of these trademark infringing domains will be stopped.

Tasting likely will be stopped, but as long as their is money to be made registering trademark domains, cybersquatting will not stop. . . What will be next on the agenda for the techno-pinkos, stopping domain monetization ?

The one thing all of this shows is how very important it is for everyone to participate in the process. ICANN provides the means for many different constituency voices to speak out (wether the board listens is another story). So, if you don’t like the voices that are speaking and thus creating and influencing the policy decisions in the domain business, maybe it’s time for you to speak as well.

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