ICANN Ombudsman Chris LaHatte is investigating ICANN’s recent closed-door Trademark Clearinghouse talks, and wants feedback from community members.
In a brief blog post this evening, LaHatte wrote:
I have received a complaint about the process used in the recent Trademark Clearinghouse meetings where decisions were made on the way forward. The complaint in summary says that the decisions were made without full consultation from some contituencies. I have of course not formed any view on this, and need input from people who participated and were pleased with the process, or from others who feel they were excluded. Such submissions can be made to me at email@example.com, or on this blog. as comments.
The complaint refers to meetings in Brussels and Los Angeles recently, convened by CEO Fadi Chehade to discuss proposals jointly submitted by the Intellectual Property Constituency and Business Constituency.
The IPC and BC continue to call for stronger trademark protections in the new gTLD program, and the talks were designed to see if any changes could be made to the TMCH that would fulfill these requests.
However, the meetings were invitation-only and, unusually for ICANN, not webcast live. Attendees at the LA meeting also say that they were asked by ICANN not to tweet or blog about the talks.
While the LA meeting was apparently recorded, to the best of my knowledge the audio has not yet been released.
While LaHatte did not of course name the person who complained about these meetings, I’d hazard a guess they are from the non-commercial side of the house, members of which have already complained that they were vastly outnumbered by IP interests.
(UPDATE: I was correct. The complaint was filed by Maria Farrell of the Non-Commercial Users Constituency)
Former GNSO Council chair Stephane Van Gelder (from the Registrar Constituency) also recently wrote a guest post for DI in which he questioned the possible circumvention of ICANN’s established bottom-up policy-making processes.
There’s also substantial concern in other constituencies that ICANN is trying to appease the trademark lobby for political reasons, attempting to force through their desired changes to the new gTLD program under the guise of tweaks to “implementation” detail.
Chehade has asked the GNSO Council for “policy guidance” on the TMCH strawman proposals, which seems to be already stirring up passions on the Council ahead of its December 20 meeting.
The question of what is “implementation” and what is “policy” is a meme that we will be returning to before long, without doubt.