ICANN reopens defensive registration debate

Kevin Murphy, April 13, 2012, 16:04:11 (UTC), Domain Policy

ICANN’s board of directors wants more policy work done on the problem of defensive domain name registrations.

In a resolution passed at a meeting on Tuesday, the board’s newly created New gTLD Program Committee, made up exclusively of non-conflicted directors, said it:

directs staff to provide a briefing paper on the topic of defensive registrations at the second level and requests the GNSO to consider whether additional work on defensive registrations at the second level should be undertaken

The decision was made following the debate about “defensive” gTLD applications ICANN opened up in February, prompted by a letter from US Department of Commerce assistant secretary Larry Strickling.

That in turn followed the two Congressional hearings in December, lobbied for and won by the Association of National Advertisers and its Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight.

So this week’s decision is a pretty big win for the intellectual property lobby. It’s managed to keep the issue of stronger second-level trademark protection in new gTLDs alive despite ICANN essentially putting it to bed when it approved the new gTLD program last June.

The GNSO could of course decide that no further work needs to be done, so the champagne corks should probably stay in place for the time being.

At the same meeting on Tuesday, the ICANN board committee voted to disregard the GNSO Council’s recent decision to grand extra protections to the International Olympic Committee, Red Cross and Red Crescent movements. The rationale for this decision has not yet been published.

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Comments (2)

  1. A decade ago when I was on ICANN’s Board of Directors I had proposed that ICANN consider proposing to the US Congress a simple amendment to the US trademark law that could clarify some of this.

    I proposed that the US trademark law be amended to say that no holder of a US Federally registered mark would be disadvantaged or lose any rights of enforcement or diminishment of scope of the mark should that registrant chose or fail to register that mark in any or all domain name registries in which it could register.

    (I am sure that better language could be drafted.)

    That could, I believe, help remove some of the angst that is felt by mark holders or, more likely, by their counsel, at least for those who’s view of their marks is US centric.

    ICANN’s board ignored my proposal (much as they ignorred pretty much every other proposal I made, such as the establishment of an early-warning system of probes to continuously monitor that DNS roots and TLD servers were running well and accurately.)

    But I still think it could be a useful thing to do.

  2. Philip Corwin says:

    Reviving this debate at this time would be unnecessary, pointless, and needlessly divisive. What are they thinking?

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