[Gnso-ppsai-pdp-wg] Mandatory Reveal in Context of Allegations that a Domain Name is Infringing Trademark

Phil Corwin psc at vlaw-dc.com
Tue Oct 28 16:30:27 UTC 2014

I want to reiterate the concerns I raised during today's call about recommending a policy that would require a privacy/proxy provider (PPP) to reveal/disclose a registrant's identity and contact information based on a mere allegation that the domain name is infringing a trademark.

ICANN has established the URDP and URS to deal with such allegations. And every day WIPO, NAF, and other providers deny complainant allegations. In fact, it appears that instances of attempted reverse domain hijacking are on the rise.

A registrant who is targeted in a UDRP or URS has a choice of responding (in which case they will be revealing their identity) or to default and let the provider decide the allegation based solely upon the complaint. The proposed policy would compel disclosure of registrant data even when no UDRP, URS, or trademark infringement litigation was filed, or even if the allegation was subsequently found to fail to meet the required burden of proof.

I am not convinced by arguments that such mandatory disclosure might facilitate resolution absent the filing of arbitration or litigation. That can be accomplished by requiring the PPP to relay a cease-and-desist letter or other communication to the registrant. Mandatory disclosure based on an unproven allegation does not further the claimed goal.

Summing up, I believe that our WG should not create any new policy related to allegations of TM infringement by a domain name but should leave this issue to the new gTLD RPM and UDRP review that will be commencing next spring.

As for allegations of trademark infringement based upon a  website's content that is a separate matter. However, I believe our discussions should recognize that PPPs are unlikely to weigh the merits of an allegation and that their likely default position will be to reveal registrant data once a complaint addresses all the relevant points required by any new policy on this subject. Given that likelihood, we should certainly consider the extent to which such a policy might be abused by a private sector or governmental actor.

Thank you for taking these views into account.

Philip S. Corwin, Founding Principal
Virtualaw LLC
1155 F Street, NW
Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20004

Twitter: @VlawDC

"Luck is the residue of design" -- Branch Rickey

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