US Department of Commerce assistant secretary Larry Strickling has called on ICANN to create more trademark protection mechanisms across new and existing gTLDs.
In a letter to ICANN yesterday, Strickling, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, also expressed concerned about the slow progress on implementing the Uniform Rapid Suspension and Trademark Clearinghouse systems.
The URS has run into a problem because no provider ICANN has approached to date wants to run it for the $300 to $500 filing fee.
Meanwhile, the way ICANN plans to implement the Clearinghouse has been hit by criticism from registries, registrars and new gTLD applicants, many of which believe it is too inflexible.
Strickling told ICANN that “it is imperative that all fees associated with the URS remain low”, and suggested that cost savings could be achieved through integration with the Clearinghouse.
But he also called for stronger trademark protections in general, above and beyond what the ICANN community has already decided to implement.
Industry stakeholders have presented a variety of suggestions to reduce the cost of defensive registrations (e.g. trademark blocking mechanisms) and others have suggested enhanced safeguards for new gTLDs targeted at creative sectors.
While not taking a position in support of any specific proposal at this time, NTIA does believes that ICANN should continue and open and transparent dialogue between all actors in order to find solutions to these issues which have come into clearer focus since the release of the 1,930 applications this past June.
The letter was sent due to NTIA’s meeting with the 30-odd so-called “brand summit” companies — almost all household names — last month.
Among other things, they want the Clearinghouse to alert them whenever somebody registers a domain name containing their trademarks, instead of just exact matches.
The counter-argument from the domain industry is that such a proposal would create millions of false positives, due to dictionary words, run-ons and acronyms.
An example recently aired by attorney John Berryhill is the Yellow Pages trademark on “YP”, which would be triggered in the Clearinghouse whenever PayPal registered its brand as a domain name.
The brand summit companies also want a blanket trademark blocking system based on ICM Registry’s .xxx Sunrise B process, under which they pay a one-off fee to block their mark in a gTLD forever.
Opponents point out that such systems may be appropriate in single TLDs, but problems could arise when applied to all TLDs. Different companies have rights to the same strings in different fields.
Strickling appears to be aware of the problems that could be caused if the trademark community gets everything it wants. In the letter, he urges mutual understanding, writing:
Whatever process ICANN follows, trademark holders should provide clear, fact-based descriptions of the challenges they encounter in the global DNS and registries and registrars should clarify issues relating to the technical feasibility and costs of implementing any additional protections.
It’s a nice idea, but attempts to reach a sane solution have so far been unsuccessful.
Melbourne IT’s HARM proposal, which would give special rights to particularly vulnerable brands, was shot down by trademark owners as too limited during a meeting in Washington DC last month.
ICANN is to hold a webcast and teleconference next week to discuss alternative models for the new gTLDs Trademark Clearinghouse.
It will be the last time the community gets to discuss the issue before ICANN 45 kicks off in Toronto next weekend.
Neustar, ARI Registry Services, Verisign and Demand Media have jointly proposed two models for the mandatory new gTLD Sunrise period and Trademark Claims service that differ from ICANN’s.
While the proposals are enjoying general murmurs of support from the domain name industry side of the community, the trademark lobby has yet to have any substantial presence in the talks.
Most of the discussions to date have been hindered by this lack of input, and by a frustrating lack of hard feedback from ICANN and its two contractors, IBM and Deloitte.
Tuesday’s meeting might be a good opportunity for members of the Business Constituency and IP Constituency to brush up on the issues before Toronto.
The meeting will start at 9am US Eastern time, according to Neustar vice president Jeff Neuman, who provided the following information:
The documents are posted at:
The call-in information is:
Conference ID: 93759
Dial-in numbers for each country: http://www.adigo.com/icann/
Adobe Connect Room at: http://icann.adobeconnect.com/tmch/
ICANN is having a big rethink about how it decides where to drag the community to on its thrice-yearly meetings.
A proposal published tonight would reduce the number of cities it visits between 2014 and 2016 from nine to seven, meaning Africa and North America would both lose a meeting.
ICANN says its meetings are getting bigger and it’s getting harder to find suitable locations that it hasn’t already been to:
As ICANN Meetings have increased in size and scope, the number of facilities capable of hosting an ICANN Meeting has decreased considerably. In addition, the number of facilities that actually meet all of the established meeting location selection criteria is very limited.
ICANN Meetings have already been held in more than 40 different cities worldwide. It is becoming increasingly difficult to identify new hosts, as well as new host cities with the appropriate facilities.
Under the new proposal, ICANN would pre-select conference centers worldwide that are big enough, are easy to get to, have decent internet access, have plenty of nearby hotels and so forth.
It reckons it could save money by negotiating multi-year deals with such venues, but that this would mean a reduced number of locations.
Under ICANN’s current plan, 2014-2016 would see two meetings in Europe, two in North America, two in Asia-Pacific, two in Africa, and one in Latin America. Each would be in a different city.
The new plan would increase Europe and Asia-Pacific to three meetings each, but in four countries instead of six. Africa and North America would both lose a meeting. Latin America would still have one meeting.
ICANN wants to know what you think about this idea. I can see it being divisive along predictable lines.
Two candidates for the soon-be-vacated chair of the Generic Names Supporting Organization have been put forward.
Jonathan Robinson has been nominated by the contracted parties house (registries and registrars), while Thomas Rickert has been put forward by the non-contracted parties.
Rickert, an IP lawyer, is director of names and numbers at Eco, a German internet industry association. He was appointed to the GNSO Council by the ICANN Nominating Committee last year.
UK-based Robinson is a longstanding member of the domain name industry and a registries rep on the Council. He’s a director of Afilias and runs IProta, the startup that managed ICM Registry’s sunrise last year.
The two men will be voted on by the GNSO Council before the chairman’s seat, currently occupied by Stephane Van Gelder, is vacated at the end of the Toronto meeting next month.
Van Gelder is coming to the end of his term on the Council after two years in the chair, hence the need for a replacement.
Argentinian ccTLD manager NIC Argentina offered its Twitter followers prizes if they commented on the controversial .patagonia gTLD application.
Earlier this week, the company tweeted a few times:
— Nic Argentina (.ar) (@nicargentina) September 25, 2012
My Spanish isn’t great, but this appears to be a prize draw for “kits de calcos” — stickers or decals of some kind — for followers submitting comments against .patagonia.
The .patagonia application, a dot-brand bid filed by a clothing retailer, has caused a huge ruckus in Argentina, where Patagonia is a large geographic region.
The application has received over 1,500 comments to date, pretty much all of which are from disgruntled Latin Americans.