Erratic allocation of generic names criticized

Spain

One of the problems that arises when registering a domain name in Spain is the prohibition on registering generic names (as per the Order of March 21 2001). As a result, domain names such as 'capital.es' and 'hotel.es' are not likely to be granted. The registrant might be invited to modify the domain name to make it less generic.

When assigning domain names, Red.es (the administrator of the country's top-level domain '.es') has been criticized by consumer and internet users' associations for not applying uniform criteria to the allocation of generic domain names. For example, Red.es has assigned domain names such as 'idealista.es' and 'mia.es', both of which can be considered broadly generic. In comparison, Red.es has denied the assignment of domain names such as 'capital.es', where the generic character does not appear to be as obvious.

It seems that the procedure followed when assigning names is based on an erroneous understanding of the term 'generic'. According to the Trademark Law, the term 'generic' refers to the common understanding of a trademark in relation to the specific trademark class in which it has been registered. As a result, despite the intrinsic nature of a word, it may not be considered to be generic when included in a specific class. Therefore, the generic nature of a distinctive sign must be intrinsically related to the services and products of the class and not related to the meaning of that word per se.

Red.es has not issued any resolution acknowledging or incorporating these widely accepted criteria. Insecurity, therefore, remains a problem in this area of domain name allocation.

Jose Carlos Erdozain, Gomez-Acebo & Pombo, Madrid

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