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As the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers community grapples with the potential threat of the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation regime to the WHOIS system, the organisation is deferring enforcement actions over non-compliance with contractual obligations relating to the handling of registration data. The move has been criticised as a “reactionary” gambit by one leading IP expert.
At this week’s Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers meeting, representatives from e-commerce giant Amazon received a hostile reception from the Governmental Advisory Committee while seeking to reach a compromise over its stalled ‘.amazon’ generic top-level domain application. In a session on Monday afternoon, the company was told that it had blown an opportunity to reach a compromise and that allowing the application to proceed would open a “Pandora’s box”.
Amazon calls for end to ‘.amazon’ gTLD stand-off; demands prompt action to end dispute with governments
Amazon has called on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to “immediately approve” its application for the ‘.amazon’ generic top-level domain, noting that prompt action is necessary because “there is no sovereign right under international or national law to the name ‘Amazon”’, with an Independent Review Process Panel having previously ruled that ICANN acted in a manner inconsistent with its bylaws when rejecting the company’s application. The move to end the stand-off over the string is one that all brands should monitor.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Public Knowledge have published a report advising domain name registrants that, in a bid to “minimise exposure to trademark bullying”, they should avoid registering domains in the new gTLD environment. While counsel may object to the ‘bullying’ label being extended to legitimate enforcement efforts, the report could have a positive payback for policing strategies.
At this week’s ICANN meeting in South Africa, the impact and effectiveness of new gTLD rights protection mechanisms has taken centre stage, with one participant voicing concerns that some trademark owners are over-reaching in sunrise applications. The flipside, of course, is that many see the need to implement proactive defensive registrations across a range of strings. Now, a new study from INTA reveals that member registrations in new TLDs have been “overwhelmingly made for defensive purposes”.
Pharmacy chain Boots has become the latest company to signal an intention to terminate a registry agreement, this time for the ‘.boots’ top-level domain (TLD). While a negative development for the new generic TLD programme, it should not be viewed as an indicator that ‘.brands’ are losing their lustre on the contrary, the rollout of branded spaces shows no sign of slowing.
MarkMonitor severs relationship with ‘.feedback’ TLD, calls for ICANN to review policies enabling “retaliatory conduct”
MarkMonitor has confirmed the termination of all accreditation agreements for the ‘.feedback’ top-level domain, following fallout from a public interest commitment dispute resolution procedure complaint filed by the company and a coalition of brands. The director of domain management at MarkMonitor has further called on ICANN to review how policies permit registry operators to engage in retaliatory conduct against those who raise legitimate compliance complaints.
‘.feedback’ fires salvo over PICDRP complaint; threatens to “de-accredit” MarkMonitor as a registrar
Three weeks after being found in breach of its ICANN compliance obligations as a result of a public interest commitment dispute resolution procedure (PICDRP) complaint, Jay Westerdal, CEO of ‘.feedback’, has fired back at MarkMonitor, one of the parties to the PICDRP. In a letter obtained by World Trademark Review, he alleges that the PICDRP disclosed confidential information and gives MarkMonitor 30 days to cure that breach or face being de-accredited as a registrar for the string.
‘.feedback’ hit with breach notification after brand complaints; ICANN urged to take stronger stance (updated)
ICANN has informed the operator of the ‘.feedback’ TLD that it is in breach of its registry agreement, the first instance a registry has been found in breach of its ICANN compliance obligations as a result of a public interest commitment dispute resolution procedure (PICDRP) complaint. However, while characterising the move as “positive”, one of the parties to the complaint has criticised the scope of the panel’s review and hit out at ICANN for not taking stronger action.
Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) case filings at WIPO have busted through the 3,000 barrier for the first time, with Philip Morris, AB Electrolux, Hugo Boss, Lego and Michelin revealed as the top complainants.
A letter, co-signed by 21 law professors and practitioners, has slammed the “expansive protections recently demanded by trademark owners”, which they argue “are inconsistent with basic propositions of trademark law”. In response, leading commentators have hit back at the “misleading and inaccurate” arguments made in the letter.
In the largest URS decision to date, the National Arbitration Forum has suspended 474 domains using marks owned by Ashley Furniture Industries. The decision comes at a time when the URS, alongside other rights protection mechanisms, is under review, with brand owners being urged to act now to shape the online enforcement environment of tomorrow.
New research from The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse has revealed the extent of identity squatting targeting this year’s presidential election candidates, as well as members of the US Congress and Senate.
Brands unleash scathing review of ‘.feedback’ top-level domain; seek investigation against registry (updated)
A collective of brands filed a public interest commitment dispute resolution procedure (PICDRP) complaint with ICANN this week, seeking a review into an allegedly “escalating pattern of discriminatory, fraudulent and deceptive registry misconduct” by the operators of the ‘.feedback’ gTLD. The move marks an escalation of the long-standing tensions between trademark owners and the registry.
This week the ‘.shop’ gTLD hit general availability, with the registry behind the string revealing that it registered almost 40,000 domains in the first 30 minutes of sales. Watchers of the expanded online space particularly trademark owners seeking to gauge the need for defensive registrations have been awaiting the launch of strings that go truly mainstream. So is the early performance of ‘.shop’ a sign that the blockbusters are now arriving?
New research has shed light on the strategies being adopted by ‘.brand’ operators, with a threefold increase in the number of second-level domain names in the brand environment observed in the first half of this year. However, the prevalence of redirects and domains with no content means that search engine results listing ‘.brands’ are not following the same upward trajectory.
Collaborate now, reduce litigation later: ICANN community urged to reach agreement on IP abuse provisions
In a letter to the Intellectual Property Constituency, ICANN has clarified that, while it will act to ensure that required contractual provisions related to abusive behaviour are included in registry-registrar agreements, its obligation to take action on IP infringing activity ends there. However, World Trademark Review has been told that the issue is “far from resolved”, with the hope that “fruitful” community collaboration will result in a satisfactory outcome.
An ongoing dispute between Vox Populi, the registry operating the ‘.sucks’ top-level domain, and Com Laude has led to the termination of the latter’s accreditation as a registrar of ‘.sucks’ domains. Vox Populi mantains that the decision resulted from a “specific breach of contract”, but Com Laude has announced that it is considering further action. The company also expressed its “hope that all brand owners will think twice before buying or renewing a ‘.sucks’ domain”.
At time of writing, according to ntldstats.com there have been 21,251,190 domain name registrations across 1,013 new gTLDs. Registrations have been on an upward trajectory since the launch of the programme in early 2014, and the line getting steeper as more TLDs go live. However, over the last week things have sped up significantly, with almost three million registrations added in three days.
Speaking at this week’s World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), taking place in Geneva, the head of ICANN’s global domains division has pointed to 2020 as the earliest realistic timeframe for the next round of new gTLD applications. However, questions remain as to whether it will be a round or a permanent window.
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