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ICANN – What are the risks to domain owners of new proposal to protect IGOs?

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From internetcommerce.org


There were several issues discussed by the ICANN board, the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), and by many other constituencies meeting in San Juan in late June. One old issue that returned is the question of who has the right to register the names of countries and names “of national or geographic significance”, including names and abbreviations of International Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs). This issue is being driven by the Government Advisory Committee (GAC), composed of national government representatives, which continues to hold all its meetings behind closed doors despite ICANN’s verbal commitment to greater transparency. The GAC and the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) ultimate goal is to allow governments, public authorities and IGOs to block all such names in new gTLDs “upon demand”, and to take domains that they consider “abusive” under a new Dispute Resolution Procedure that will give them substantially greater leverage than the current Uniform Dispute Resolution Process (UDRP). In short, their ultimate goal is to expand the DN dispute process far beyond the bounds of traditional trademark law while simultaneously undermining the rights of DN registrants.


These attacks on the legitimate rights of current and future DN registrants have been rebuffed by ICANN in the past, in part due to objections from most constituencies other than the GAC. The new tactic to achieve this goal seems to be through incremental changes developed outside the Policy Development Process (PDP) that is generally utilized for policy changes of this magnitude. A June 15, 2007 ICANN Staff report submitted to the GNSO proposes that it would be “more efficient” for staff to develop the new DRP to provide protection for the 581 names and 289 abbreviations currently registered with WIPO for IGOs. While this new DRP would apply only to new gTLDs at first, it is contemplated that these “protections” would eventually be applied to all names of national or geographic significance, and then to offending DNs at existing gTLDs to “eliminate the confusion”. What names could be included in names of national or geographic significance? The names of countries, cities, famous or infamous citizens, holidays, landmarks, local events, etc. are all at risk. Where does it end? Are ApplePie.com and July4th.com names of national significance in the US?
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As a big fan of geo domains this kind of stuff scares the crap out of me. To think that domains I have had for years could just be taken away because a govt entity gains some rights to do so is insane. It's a govt seizure of property without compensation. If this kind of stuff was approved and could be applied retroactively it would be devastating. How does someone push back against this kind of nonsense?
 
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