Trademark Interests Focus of Paris Domainer Meeting

The Domainer Meeting in Paris has got underway with wide ranging discussions on a wide range of issues affecting domainers. Phil Corwin of the Internet Commerce Association (ICA) got things underway with a passionate presentation on the state of domaining, and in particular focussing on trademark issues and how these domainers.

Around 300 people are attending the conference, primarily from Europe, but also the USA and Australia and are a mixture of domainers, lawyers and other interested parties.

In opening his address, Phil Corwin announced ICA Europe is being formed in partnership with ICA’s head office in the USA and EuroDNS. With the rise of domaining in Europe, this is seen as being able to better represent the interests of domainers in the region, and lobby European governments on issues as they affect the industry.

With the domainer industry a new one and growing rapidly around the world, Corwin says the industry needs to fight for its rights, or trademark holders will make life very difficult for them. Not only are the rights of domainers an essential issue for ICA, they also need to work hard on issues such as the need to ensure there is competition in advertising – pay per click – and since EU generally has stronger interest in competition than US, having Europe office will help lobby on issues such as this.

The ICA also needs to develop confidence in consumers against problems such as phishing. Clearly the domain name investment industry faces many challenges; critical to stay ahead of curve and collaborate and to maximise values of domain names. The ICA wants to help create environment that is safe and secure and to give the industry legitimacy.

There are a number of issues important to ICA, such as the Snowe Bill and the role of ICANN.

There is legislation in the US, known as the Snowe Bill, that ICA claim is developed with the aim of satisfying trademark holders, while not treating domaining as a legitimate business. Corwin finds this deeply troubling that American legislators are being hoodwinked into overriding domainers interests.

Corwin also addressed the role of ICANN and made a few points. He believes ICANN will end the process of domain tasting next week with new measures being introduced to combat this. He also doesn’t see ICANN staying under control of the US government for much longer. Corwin is keen to see how the organisation evolves, and ICANN’s future will in part depend on who is elected the next president of the US. But he believes the reality is if the American government continues its current role of overseeing ICANN it will be very controversial internationally. And while the US government has said ICANN’s independence will happen, it is not politically feasible having one nation overseeing even an independent ICANN.

The role of ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee is critical to the success of ICANN was another of Corwin’s points, but its lack of transparency is problematic with every meeting being held behind closed doors. This “just invites suspicion when the public and press are barred” said Corwin. He also believes the last thing we need is administrator of domain names being put behind international control of ITU, another view held by some detractors of ICANN.