[bc-gnso] Legal Developments

Phil Corwin psc at vlaw-dc.com
Thu Dec 8 22:10:59 UTC 2011

FYI, from this afternoon's National Journal/I'm not sure the headline is accurate, although Congress' favorite answer to every question is to kick the can down the road ---

Senate Panel Urges Delay In Rollout Of New Domain Names
By Juliana Gruenwald
Thursday, December 8, 2011 | 1:01 p.m.
Members of a Senate panel appealed on Thursday to the group that manages the Internet's domain name system to consider delaying its plans for an unlimited expansion of new Internet addresses.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is set to begin accepting applications for the new domain name program on Jan. 12. It will create a whole new raft of so-called higher-level domain names -- the dot-com and dot-net extensions. Almost any word could go there, from dot-baby to dot-Kleenex.
"It seems to me that caution should be used to make sure you don't rush into this," Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the issue. 
None of the lawmakers at the hearing called for the proposal to be scrapped, and Congress has little power to do anything to stop it. The issue, however, will get another airing next week at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing. 
Major companies oppose the plan, saying it will cost them millions of dollars to defend their brand names if hundreds or even thousands of new domain names are introduced. They argue that many companies and groups will be forced to register their brand names with ICANN,  or to operate their own domain name. The application fee alone to run a domain name is $185,000. 
Other critics include ICANN's first chairwoman, Esther Dyson, who headed the group's board during the first expansion of the Internet's domain name system in 2000, when seven new names were approved. Dyson told the panel that while she supported ICANN's expansion of the domain name system in 2000, the group's latest proposal is a mistake and would provide no benefit to consumers or businesses. 
"It creates a profusion of new things to protect without creating any additional value.. And that's why I think this whole idea is fundamentally misguided," said Dyson, who left the ICANN board in late 2000. 
Association of National Advertisers Executive Vice President Dan Jaffe, whose group helped launch an industry coalition to oppose the new domain name plan, criticized the process that ICANN used to develop the program. He claimed many of those who were involved in crafting the proposal will benefit financially from the rollout of new domain names.  
Ayotte, a former state attorney general and prosecutor, noted that law enforcement officials say expanding the number domain names will make it even more difficult for them to track down the people behind criminal websites, who often provide false website registration information. Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz also cited this issue in criticizing the domain name program on Wednesday. 
ICANN Senior Vice President Kurt Pritz did not give any indication that his group will delay the rollout of the program in January, and he told National Journal after the hearing that no one on ICANN's board has proposed delaying the launch.
During the hearing, Pritz  strongly defended the program, saying it was years in the making. He said ICANN included many of the protections sought by trademark owners and other stakeholders in the program and has pledged to reevaluate the program after the initial round of new names is introduced. 
Pritz said ICANN will approve those applications that meet standards, such as having the financial and organizational wherewithal to operate a domain name -- out of as many as 1,000 applications in the initial round. Pritz later told reporters that ICANN will likely approve 70 to 80 percent of those applications. 
When asked if her agency can stop ICANN's domain name program, Fiona Alexander, associate administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which helped launch ICANN in 1998 and oversees the group, did not answer directly but indicated the agency would not impose its view.

Philip S. Corwin, Founding Principal
Virtualaw LLC
1155 F Street, NW
Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20004
"Luck is the residue of design" -- Branch Rickey

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-bc-gnso at icann.org [mailto:owner-bc-gnso at icann.org] On Behalf Of Deutsch, Sarah B
Sent: Thursday, December 08, 2011 3:59 PM
To: 'Marilyn Cade'
Cc: bc - GNSO list
Subject: RE: [bc-gnso] Legal Developments

 Wanted to make sure the BC was aware of the following legal developments:

1. Domain Name company Sedari was sued (see link the article and complaint below and also note who pops up in the sponsored ad) http://domainincite.com/former-icann-cfo-sues-sedari-over-e100k-deal/

2. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board issued a ruling that .Music is not registrable as a trademark.  This is an issue we previously discussed in the BC and which should create precedent.


Sarah B. Deutsch
Vice President & Associate General Counsel Verizon Communications
Phone: 703-351-3044
Fax: 703-351-3670 

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