Yesterday ICA filed a letter that generally supported the GNSO Council’s recent and unanimously adopted Resolution on Protections for International Governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations (IGOs & INGOs). In particular, while supporting strong protections for exact matches of their full names at the top and second level of the DNS, we were pleased that the Resolution did not grant undue protections to acronyms of their names, and did not put existing acronyms at incumbent gTLDs at unreasonable risk.
But it turns out that ICA was the only organization to file a supportive comment in the initial comment round (the reply period is now open until January 8th) – and that the UN has coordinated a flood of letters (found at forum.icann.org/lists/comments-igo-ingo-recommendations-27nov13/), all protesting that the Resolution does not go far enough to protect those acronyms. Besides the UN, such organizations as NATO, WIPO (which is a UN agency), and Interpol say it doesn’t do enough to prevent potential misuse of those acronyms, especially at new gTLDs.
ICA last weighed in on this issue in mid-October (see internetcommerce.org/IGO%2526INGO) when we noted that some proposals would go so far as barring the registration of common acronyms such as idea, eco, imo, iso, and au, as well as adversely affecting their existing counterparts at incumbent gTLDs. We proposed a more reasonable approach that is in many ways reflected in the GNSO-adopted resolution.
But that doesn’t begin to go far enough for the UN and the IGOs and INGOs it has rallied to its cause. Indeed, their position takes a harder line than ICANN’s own Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). The GAC’s Buenos Aires Communique (https://gacweb.icann.org/download/attachments/27132037/FINAL_Buenos_Aires_GAC_Communique_20131120.pdf?version=1&modificationDate=1385055905332&api=v2) addressed this issue by requesting a dialogue with the New gTLD program Committee (NGPC) on a final modality for permanent protection of IGO acronyms at the second level, through a notification system that would allow for timely intervention to prevent misuse and confusion through a no or nominal cost system that provided for a final binding determination by a third party. That’s fairly consistent with ICA’s position, as we have no objection to allowing IGOs and INGOs to make use of the UDRP and URS, although we have reservations about placing their exact names in the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) database until changes are made in the Trademark Claims Notice generated by attempts to register matches – and we don’t support placing their acronyms in the TMCH.
Regardless of the legal or technical merits, the mass of comment filings against the GNSO Resolution has just converted this into yet another politically charged hot potato that needs to be resolved by the ICANN Board. Will the GAC now take on a tougher stance under pressure from these IGOs and INGOs? And, in an approaching year when the debate between the choice of a multistakeholder versus a multilateral model of Internet governance will take center stage at the spring Sao Paulo meeting and the fall ITU session, how will the ICANN Board balance considerations of defending the unanimous multistakeholder position of the GNSO Council versus the need to garner multilateral support for ICANN itself?
As this issue develops further, ICA will remain on guard against proposals that would grant undue protections to second level acronyms or undermine the rights of registrants at incumbent gTLDs. As to how this story plays out, that’s TBC (to be continued).
Here’s the letter we filed yesterday–
Philip S. Corwin, Founding Principal
1155 F Street, NW Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20004
December 18, 2013
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
12025 Waterfront Drive, Suite 300
Los Angeles, CA 90094-2536
Re: Protection of IGO and INGO Identifiers in All gTLDs (PDP) Recommendations for Board Consideration
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Internet Commerce Association (ICA). ICA is a not-for-profit trade association representing the domain name industry, including domain registrants, domain marketplaces, and direct search providers. Its membership is composed of domain name registrants who invest in domain names (DNs) and develop the associated websites, as well as the companies that serve them. Professional domain name registrants are a major source of the fees that support registrars, registries, and ICANN itself. ICA members own and operate approximately ten percent of all existing Internet domains on behalf of their own domain portfolios as well as those of thousands of customers.
This letter addresses the “Protection of IGO and INGO Identifiers in All gTLDs (PDP) Recommendations for Board Consideration” posted for public comment on November 27th. We are specifically commenting upon the Resolution unanimously adopted by the GNSO Council on November 20th when it approved the consensus recommendations of the IGO-INGO PDP Working Group. Following this comment period those recommendations will be considered by the ICANN Board.
The ICA is generally supportive of the Resolution adopted by the GNSO Council – with the exception of certain recommendations relating to the inclusion of exact matches and acronyms in the Trademark Clearinghouse database.
We are also gratified that the recommendations do not adopt a hostile position toward acronyms of the encompassed organizations that are registered at the second level of existing gTLDs.
The ICA filed comments on October 11, 2013 in regard to the Draft Final Report on Protection of IGO and INGO Identifiers in All gTLDs.
The positions we took in that prior comment letter can be summarized follows:
We hope that ICANN finds our views on this matter to be useful and informative. We look forward to contributing to the Issue Report, PDP, and IRT referenced above.
Philip S. Corwin
Counsel, Internet Commerce Association
This article by the Internet Commerce Association’s Philip Corwin was sourced with permission from: internetcommerce.org/UNvsGNSO