NTIA Asks ICANN, Nicely, To Consider Poor, Beleaguered Trademark Holders

Posted in: Domain Names at 05/01/2012 22:28

Various arms of the US government have been asking ICANN to reconsider and even delay the introduction of new generic Top Level Domains, however the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has been reticent to criticise the organisation and has generally offered ICANN support. Until now.

While not asking ICANN to stop the introduction of new gTLDs, the NTIA's Lawrence Strickling has written to ICANN (here and here) suggesting that as they move forward with the programme's introduction, he urges the organisation "to consider implementing measures: (i) to minimise the perceived need for defensive registrations; (ii) to implement promptly ICANN's existing commitments for law enforcement and consumer protection; and (iii) to ensure better education of stakeholders."

The Strickling letter seems to be saying to ICANN that while we support the introduction of new gTLDs, to stop some US marketing and advertising organisations, albeit often with a global membership, complaining please publicly at least take into account their concerns.

The NTIA has obviously been receiving the same barrage of complaints that several US government departments, politicians and even ICANN has been receiving mainly relating to trademark issues from the very same organisations that virtually ignored six years of ICANN's consultation.

Expanding on the points in the letter, the NTIA says that following "recent discussions with stakeholders, it has become clear that many organisations, particularly trademark owners, believe they need to file defensive applications at the top level." The NTIA suggests "it appears that this possibility might not have been fully appreciated during the multistakeholder process on the belief that the cost and difficulty of operating a top-level registry would constrain companies from filing defensive registrations."

The NTIA also suggests ICANN should consider "whether there is a need to phase in the introduction of new gTLDS" once ICANN has been able to assess the total number of applications.

Their third point notes that "it has become apparent that some stakeholders in the United States are not clear about the new gTLD programme" and Strickling urges ICANN "to engage immediately and directly with these and other stakeholders to better educate them on the purpose and scope of the program as well as the mechanisms available to address their concerns."

One could possibly read this to say the dunces that have failed to be engaged in the development process for new gTLDs despite ICANN's multistakeholder approach need to have their hands held and explained the process. Or in the case of the Association of National Advertisers, who submitted comments around 1998 during ICANN's extensive consultation, conveniently forgot about the whole thing for three years until after the programme was approved, some help with their amnesia.

These complaints have been pursued by the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse, who unlike of the several organisations that have recently started voicing their concerns, have been involved in the process for some years.

CADNA has strong reservations about the introduction of new gTLDs, the organisation wants to work with ICANN to address the issues they see.

"CADNA looks forward to working constructively with ICANN, the Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Congress to make the policy better," said Josh Bourne, President of CADNA. "With ICANN set on moving forward with the New gTLD Programme in less than two weeks, there are certain clear, straightforward changes that could be made to the policy that will improve it for businesses and the Internet community at large."

CADNA has a number of requests for ICANN including announcing when the next round of applications for new gTLDs will be, a lessening of the burden on trademark owners and improving consumer protection, "consider adopting a pricing structure where a single applicant applying for multiple gTLDs pays a reduced rate for the subsequent gTLD applications" and allowing non-profits wanting to apply for their gTLDs to participate in the Applicant Support Programme.

CADNA also says The US Congress should take much-needed action to improve the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act and for the NTIA, that if ICANN is awarded the new IANA contract following its expiration in March 2012, its structure and policy development process should also be subject to an audit.


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