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International - ICANN chair: Current trademark protection mechanisms are enough

By Adam Smith
June 25 2010

The chair of the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has told WTR that he believes the rights protection mechanisms for new generic top-level domains (gTLD), as currently drafted in the fourth version of the draft applicant guidebook, are sufficient for the protection of trademark rights.

In an exclusive interview, Peter Dengate Thrush confirmed that he hopes the trademark issues will therefore be cleared up by the time of the board’s retreat in September, adding: “We’re ready to go”.

Thrush’s position may not surprise trademark owners, who this week have showed they are resigned to the new gTLD programme, but the fact that the chair of the board has come out on record is somewhat of a shock. Attorneys representing large corporate brands have told me this week that they wanted to hear from the board whether it really considered the proposed Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) system and other rights protection mechanisms sufficient for the protection of trademarks in an expanded gTLD space. Now we have clarity: yes, ICANN believes that a not-so-rapid URS is implementable and will protect trademarks. It is a bizarre situation: as noted several times on this blog, the URS may now take longer than a UDRP filing.

“I agree with and understand the need for prompt remediation,” Thrush told WTR. “I have conceptually no problem with making sure that expedited processes are available. If this one turns out to be too slow, we’ll do something else. What we can’t have is the hold up of the entire process until this is resolved.”

However, Thrush acknowledged that, with ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model, no policy is set in stone. “These processes were created by the community,” he said. “And they should be editable by the community. Let’s not forget that from the time of issuing the final applicant guidebook [now expected in December] to the time of the first application round opening, there’ll be a considerable amount of time. There’ll be opportunity to improve these processes.”

The full interview will be published shortly by WTR.

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