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ICANN sets deadline to sort out Olympic shambles

Kevin Murphy, September 17, 2012, 18:33:09 (UTC), Domain Policy

ICANN’s board of directors has set itself a deadline to come to a decision on special new gTLD protections for the International Olympic Committee and Red Cross.

It’s looking rather like the IOC, Red Cross and Red Crescent are going to get more of the concessions they’ve been asking for for the last few years, including protection at the second level.

In a resolution passed last week, the ICANN board urged the Generic Names Supporting Organization to make recommendations before January 31 next year, and indicated that it would take matters into its own hands if GNSO consensus cannot be found.

Resolved, the Board thanks the GNSO for its continued attention and ongoing work on this topic, and requests that the GNSO continue its work on a policy recommendation on second-level protections for the IOC and Red Cross/Red Crescent names on an expedited basis.

Resolved (NG2012.09.13.01), if it is not possible to conclude the policy work prior to 31 January 2013, the Board requests that the GNSO Council advise the Board by no later than that date if it is aware of any reason, such as concerns with the global public interest or the security or stability of the DNS, that the Board should take into account in making its decision about whether to include second level protections for the IOC and Red Cross/Red Crescent names

The GNSO has a working group looking at the problem, which is currently deciding whether to recommend starting a formal Policy Development Process.

Given that new gTLDs are expected to start launching in less than a year, and given that PDPs take forever to wrap up, if they ever do, it’s also trying to decide whether to recommend that the IOC/RC/RC marks should be protected in the interim.

Exact matches of the Olympic and Red Cross names, as well as a limited number of translations, would be “reserved” or otherwise removed from sale by each new gTLD registry.

The ICANN board appears to be leaning towards granting these interim protections. In last week’s resolution, it stated:

the Board favors a conservative approach, that restrictions on second-level registration can be lifted at a later time, but restrictions cannot be applied retroactively after domain names are registered.

The IOC/RC/RC debate has been going on since June 2011, when the ICANN board gave the organizations temporary top-level protection in new gTLDs and then passed the hot potato to the GNSO.

The GNSO working group tasked with sorting through the resulting policy mess was subsequently hindered by procedural posturing and acrimony at the Council level and an unreceptive board.

There’s a parallel argument going on at the moment with intergovernmental organizations demanding the same or greater protection, too. Expect IGOs to react with further (mock?) outrage if the IOC/RC/RC get special treatment.

Recently unredacted ICANN board briefing documents reignited the IGO debate last week.

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Comments (1)

  1. John Berryhill says:

    In the United States, there are substantial independent rights in the term “RED CROSS”.

    US Reg. TM No. 0995647 is owned by the Nine West shoe firm for “RED CROSS” for shoes, with rights dating back to 1898.

    US Reg. TM No. 0350307 is owned by the Mentholatum Company for “RED CROSS” for toothache remedies, with rights dating back to 1876.

    US Reg. TM No. 1870955 is owned by Johnson & Johnson for sterile cotton, with rights dating back to 1898.

    There are several others who independently, or by agreement with American Red Cross founder Clara Barton, own substantial rights in “RED CROSS”.

    It is astounding that the ICANN Board would unilaterally act in such a way to deprive legitimate trademark owners of the right to use their longstanding marks in domain names.

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