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ICANN to adopt most of the new gTLD “strawman”

Kevin Murphy, March 20, 2013, 18:41:37 (UTC), Domain Policy

ICANN has given a boost to trademark owners by saying it will implement most of the controversial “strawman” solution to extend protections under the new gTLD program.

In a video just posted to ICANN’s web site, CEO Fadi Chehade said that Claims 2 and the Limited Preventative Registrations proposals have been thrown out for the moment as matters requiring policy work.

But many more aspects of the strawman have been classed as “implementation” and will go ahead.

This means:

  • A mandatory 30-day notice period before sunrises begin.
  • Trademark Claims extended from 60 to 90 days.
  • Tradermark owners will be able to add up to 50 confusingly similar strings to each of their Trademark Clearinghouse records, provided the string had been part of a successful UDRP complaint.

Chehade said:

We are going to implement a 30 day notice period before each sunrise. We’re also going to extend the Trademark Claims period from 60 to 90 days. The Claims 2 period which was discussed frankly did not receive a lot of support from many of you so we’re going to let that go for now.

And then finally there was a lot of discussion about extending the Trademark Claims protection to abuse names and after much debate on whether this is a new program or an extension of what we’re doing we came to the conclusion it is an implementation extension and we will move forward with that.

In the video, Chehade also says that ICANN is on track to start publishing the first results of new gTLD initial evaluations this Friday, as expected.

But he warned that if applicants and registrars do not agree on the proposed Registry Agreement and Registrar Accreditation Agreement, ICANN might miss its April 23 deadline for approving the first gTLDs.

He said:

Let me be clear: if we do not come together towards an agreement on these things we might experience a delay in the program, which I have committed to you that we will be ready for on April 23rd. So from an ICANN staff standpoint and operations standpoint we remain ready to request new gTLDs for delegation on April 23rd. But without these agreements we might experience a delay.

He directly referenced the massive sticking point in these discussions: the fact that ICANN wants to introduce a unilateral right of amendment into both contracts.

Here’s the full video:

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Comments (6)

  1. Philip Corwin says:

    In regard to expanding the TMCH database to incude up to 50 previously abused variations, Fade informed members of the US Congress on September 19, 2012:

    “It is important to note that the Trademark Clearinghouse is intended to be a repository for existing legal rights, and not an adjudicator of such rights or creator of new rights. Extending the protections offered through the Trademark Clearinghouse to any form of name would potentially expand rights beyond those granted under trademark law and put the Clearinghouse in the role of making determination as to the scope of particular rights. The principle that rights protections ‘should protect the existing rights of trademark owners, but neither expand those rights nor create additional rights by trademark law’ was key to work of the Implementation Recommendation Team…”

    And ICANN’s own summary of the Strawman Model clearly states that this proposed expansion of the scope of trademark claims involves policy and not mere implementation:

    “The inclusion of strings previously found to be abusively registered in the Clearinghouse for purposes of Trademark Claims can be considered a policy matter. This proposal provides a path for associating a limited number of additional domain names with a trademark record, on the basis of a decision rendered under the UDRP or a court proceeding. Given the previous intensive discussions on the scope of protections associated with a Clearinghouse record, involving the IRT/STI, we believe this needs guidance from the GNSO Council.”

    So why does ICANN now believe that this expansion is within its powers, and that GNSO Council guidance is not required? The written memo they just issued does not provde a satisfctory explanation.

  2. Robin Gross says:

    Unfortunately this is part of an alarming trend at ICANN to replace the bottom-up community-led policy development process with ICANN staff unilateralism. The multi-stakeholder bottom-up Internet governance model was an interesting experiment while it lasted.

  3. gpmgroup says:

    Robin, I am not sure why you would be surprised:

    It was obvious that many hard fought protections for individual registrants would be trampled on when governments and the large corporations began to fear the potential for increased abuses stemming from the proposed “wide open one size fits all” new gTLD program. A program which I might add was one that several academics and industry insiders lobbied so vehemently for, whilst paying such scant regard for the need to create real sustainable value and benefits for registrants and Internet users worldwide.

    ICANN has little choice if it wishes to keep the new gTLD program on track since the community would be very unlikely to quickly agree to the changes they want to make on behalf of the governments and the IP lobby.

    The new gTLD program will likely prove very costly for registrants in many ways. Let’s hope not too many innocent third parties loose their rights to legitimately owned property and not too many have to squander their hard earned resources protecting their property either.

    An aside many times the problems are hidden:

    I saw a copy of a letter last week from a lawyer who was using pending United States trademark registration applications and threats of UDRP action to try and secure a valuable generic .com domain. This was in spite of him having lost several UDRP cases in the past for similar behaviour.

    It is a worrying trend that as time passes more and more people are acquiring pieces of paper and then trying to use those pieces of paper to claim property rights without any underlying goods or services to protect.

  4. zack says:

    So is this one of those “commitments” by Fadi that gives them the right to change at a later date?

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