The European Union is continuing to fight the proposed .wine and .vin gTLDs, even after ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee formally withdrew its advice on the applications.
Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission, wrote to ICANN on Thursday to say that its “firm position” is:
under no circumstance can we agree having .wine and .vin and on the internet, without sufficient safeguards which efficiently protect the rights and interest of both GI [Geographic Indicator] right holders and consumers and wine and wine products
The EC believes that .wine and .vin should have special second-level protections for wine GIs — geographic indicators such as Champagne, named after the region in which it is produced.
It’s a view that has been put forward by many associations of wine producers in the EU and US for over a year. ICANN is also in receipt of letters disagreeing with the GAC from other wine producers.
The law internationally, and even in the EU, appears to be patchy on whether and how GIs are protected. They don’t generally enjoy the same uniformity of protection as trademarks.
The GAC considered the two strings in April at the Beijing meeting but failed to come to a consensus.
It wound up asking ICANN for more time and, after failing to reach agreement again in Durban this July, finally concluded last week that it was unable to find a consensus on advice.
That potentially laid the path clear for the four applications for the two strings to continue to contention resolution, contracting and eventual delegation.
However, the GAC’s all-clear arrived too late for the ICANN New gTLD Program Committee to formally consider it at its meeting last week.
According to the Kroes letter, the European Commission’s view is:
there has not been any consensus decision overruling the advice given in Beijing. We are therefore of the firm opinion that the advice provided at the GAC April meeting stands as long as there is no new consensus on the matter.
The Beijing advice, which was explicitly intended to give the GAC more time to deliberate, said that ICANN should not proceed beyond Initial Evaluation with .wine or .vin.
Kroes’ logic may or may not be consistent with the letter of the Beijing communique, but certainly not its spirit. That’s becoming an increasingly common problem with GAC advice.
It seems unlikely, however, that ICANN would put the views of one single government ahead of what the GAC as a whole has submitted as formal advice.
Her letter does not seem to have been published by ICANN yet, but you can read it in PDF format here.