ICANN’s New gTLD Pre-Registration Opposed by INTA

The International Trademark Association (INTA), a not-for-profit membership association of 5,900 trademark owners, professionals and academics, from more than 190 countries, emailed its members on 11 January to suggest they support their opposition to ICANN’s proposed expressions of interest (EOI) process.

In December, ICANN proposed adraft model for soliciting Expressions of Interest for new generic top-level domains (new gTLDs). According to this EOI/pre-registration model, entities interested in participating in the first round of the new gTLD programme would be required to submit basic information about the participating entity and the requested TLD.

Opposition to ICANN’s proposal has come from INTA members around the world including large brand owners such as The Body Shop, Heinz and Lockheed Martin although in their announcement expressing support from its members, INTA is quite vague about how much support they have from members.

According to a report in Managing IP, INTA’s email states that “overarching issues remain unresolved” in ICANN’s proposed launch of unlimited new gTLDs and that INTA believes “it is premature for ICANN to accept pre-registrations, and that the proposed pre-registration process will have harmful ramifications such as forcing trademark owners to defensively pre-register to protect their trademarks.”

For a body though that deals with trademarks and is filled to the brim with lawyers they have not done their homework.

The third version of the Draft Applicant Guidebook says in part that there are four reasons for objecting to an application for a new gTLD, one of which is a “Legal Rights Objection” where “the applied-for gTLD string infringes the existing legal rights of the objector.” Objections under this objection may only be done by rightsholders.

INTA, obviously not having read this, state there are ramifications such as forcing trademark owners to defensively pre-register their trademarks.

However not all INTA members support the organisations views with Antony Van Couvering, CEO of Minds+Machines stating that his organisation is a member of INTA and they support the EOI process.

Oh, and Minds+Machines are proposing to apply for several new gTLDs.

“INTA members are not unanimous in their viewpoint,” wrote Van Couvering. “For example, Minds + Machines is an INTA member and we support the Expressions of Interest procedures. Surely the INTA leadership’s call to spam the comment area flouts the spirit of the comment process, where comments are solicited to elicit ideas and analysis, not the parroting of a party line. The INTA-inspired comments to date are dashed-off ‘anti’ messages without consideration or analysis.”

To read the Managing IP report in full, see:
managingip.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=2371664

To read ICANN’s announcement on the New gTLD Program — ICANN Proposes Draft Expression of Interest / Pre-Registrations Model, see:
icann.org/en/announcements/announcement-2-18dec09-en.htm

Antony Van Couvering’s comments titled “Note to ICANN Staff: INTA calls for flooding EOI comment area” are available at:
forum.icann.org/lists/draft-eoi-model/msg00024.html

And a chronological index of submissions is available from:
forum.icann.org/lists/draft-eoi-model/index.html