Monday, April 29, 2013

EFOW against racketeering on the Internet but not against wine Registries

Below is a copy of the public comment submitted by the EFOW regarding the protection of Wine Geographical Indications:


ICANN must ensure the protection of origin wines

The decision of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the American private domain name system technical oversight body, to recognise new generic top-level domains on the Internet worries the wine sector. EFOW, the European Federation of Origin Wines, believes that the applications related to the wine sector (“.wine” “.vin”) may lead to abuses of Geographical Indication (GI) wines. EFOW calls on governments and the European Commission to ask ICANN to put forward guarantees.

The development of the e-commerce has been beneficial for all economic sectors, including the wine sector. The creation of new generic top-level domains (nowadays there are about 20 such as “.com”, “.eu” etc.) is a real opportunity for the wine sector. Nevertheless, it also constitutes a major risk: seeing anyone use GI names to their benefit and the appearance of a speculative market around the sale of domain names.

ICANN has recently decided to recognise new generic top-level domains (“strings”). The objective is to enable a community, a brand or a territory to register a distinctive Web address on the basis of its’ activity. 4 applications related to the wine sector have been filed: 3 private firms are competing to manage “.wine” and a fourth “.vin”. Once ICANN determines which registrars obtain these strings, these firms will be able to commercialise them allowing individuals and/or organisations to combine these strings to a second-level domain name to create a personalised Web address as “chianti.wine”, “champagne.vin”, “rioja.wine”, “port.wine” and many others.

None of these four projects nor ICANN rules commit to the protection of GI wine names. More importantly, these companies have already announced their intention to auction to the highest bidder the second-level domain name. By doing so an address as for instance "bordeaux.vin" could be sold to a company or individual with no connection to Bordeaux wines. Since no objection procedure has been developed to protect GIs, unlike brands, EFOW considers that ICANN cannot accept these applications as such and must adapt the rules of the game.

At a recent meeting in Beijing, the GAC (Governmental Advisory Committee) of ICANN - whose members are governments and the European Commission - has expressed reservations about these four applications and has given these firms 3 months (until July) to further discussions with the sector. This warning is the result of the mobilisation of a part of the sector and of several wine producing governments as well as the European Commission. Nevertheless, the ICANN Board which wasn’t pleased with this recommendation has decided to open a public comment period in an attempt to circumvent this opinion.

This is why EFOW has decided to launch the debate and to warn consumers about potential frauds that they may suffer in the near future. It also wishes to alert the wine sector of potential extortions they may face (buying second-level domain names at prohibitive prices). EFOW’s President, Mr Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, considers that "the Internet is nowadays an essential tool for information and trade development. The lack of regulation of domain names by ICANN may increase usurpations and counterfeiting’s of our names. It is therefore essential to define precise rules not only protect our intellectual property rights, but also to protect consumers against frauds on the Web. We are not against the development of new domain names but we believe ICANN should establish fair competition rules”.

EFOW hopes that other stakeholders will stand by its’ side and that wine producing governments and the European Commission will intensify their efforts to reason with ICANN and force the Board to provide protection procedures for GIs.

The European Federation of Origin Wines: www.efow.eu

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Public comments are open...again (protect wine Geographical Indications)

In its last communiqué, the GAC had identified certain gTLD strings where further GAC consideration may be warranted at the next GAC meetings to be held in Africa (Durban) next July 2013.

The GAC advised the ICANN Board not to proceed beyond Initial Evaluation with the a certain number of strings including .WINE and .VIN.

It is now possible for the wine Community to comment globally: it is important to remember that ICANN is the organization to provide the rules, not the applicants. Regarding the protection of wine Geographical Indications, my guess is that if a solution should be found, it should be found with ICANN, not wine applicants.

If Wine Geographical Indications should be protected on .WINE and .VIN extensions only, it would absolutely not solve the problem and allow other registries to allow the registration of any Geographical Indications as a domain name: champagne.food and champagnes.food would not be protected.

You can read the information about Public Comments here comment here or directly submit a comment by sending an email at: comments-gac-safeguard-advice-23apr13@icann.org (please copy-paste).

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

2 reasons why Donuts should win all Wine new gTLD applications

Why Donuts Inc should win all wine applications (note this is not a question)

There are 2 reasons why Donuts, applicant for more than 300 Top-Level Domains, should become the official Registry for wine applications.
  • It is not because of the content of its application: There are 3 applicants in total and all of them followed the rules provided by ICANN in its applicant guidebook.
  • It is not because...
Read this article on CircleId.

New gTLDs' wine answers are in ICANN Correspondence

"Hints and solution for the protection of Wine Geographical Indications in the ICANN new gTLD program" is a letter I sent to Fadi Chehadé in April the 3rd.

It was published yesterday in ICANN Correspondence. I wonder why it took so long but it is there. I guess and hope it is because the protection of Wine Geographical Indications is becoming a serious that ICANN wants to consider.

Public comments should open soon.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The new gTLD Community reads CircleId

Many of you know that English is not my native language but unfortunately, it is more or less the only language ICANN really considers in the new gTLD program (at least, this is my feeling). It is also one of the most spoken language in the world. This being said, and whatever my English is good or not, I also write in English.

So, I like to write in CircleId because many of us go there to keep an eye on what our industry has to say.

Today, I took a look a my articles and made a simple calculation:

  • I wrote 16 articles;
  • This represents 63 476 page viewed;
  • And it represents an average of 3 967 page viewed per article (I find this is a lot);
  • The article readers read the most was "A New Generic Top-Level Domain Can Be Free" (7041 pv);
  • The one readers did not read so much was "Fashion of the Moment: The "Pioneer Program" (2585);
  • I wrote a SWOT analysis but readers liked reading "Strengths" more than "Weaknesses", and "Weaknesses" more than "Opportunities" so I wonder if I should write the last one: "Threats" (but I guess I probably will);
  • I promoted no one in my articles but I maybe I should;
  • I wrote my first article in March 2011: "Project dotVinum for .WINE Domain Names";
  • I was asked to pass messages by "others" in some of these articles because some applicants won't want to expose themselves to ICANN and other competitors.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dispute announcement: oblection filings published

Below is the link to the complete list of gTLD objections filled with:
  1. The International Center for Dispute Resolution;
  2. WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center;
  3. The International Center of Expertise of the International Chamber of Commerce:
    1. Limited Public Interest Objections;
    2. Community Objections;
Find the comlete list here.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The GAC Communiqué was published... (.wine & .vin)

...and: "what a surprise", there is a paragraph for .VIN and .WINE applications.

The awaited GAC Communiqué was published today and will probably delay the ICANN new gTLD program again. Is it good, is it bad? I have an opinion of course.

I was negative about the GAC (Governmental Advisory Committee) a few weeks ago and only saw a group of members trying to slow down the new gTLD program for wrong or unnecessary reasons. I even watched some of its members "doing their jobs" and was amused to see them pushing papers. I guess it was not the case for all of them after all.

Many of us have been complaining about delays but looking at the population complaining, the "most of us" are service providers and applicants who have an interest in new gTLDs, not Registrants:

  • Some applicants are struggling and need to sell domain names for profit as fast as possible;
  • Some are brands who want to use their domain name extension;
  • Some are investors who need to please their board;
  • Some are service providers who start to look like imbeciles because they can't provide a dead-line to their clients (and I know what I am talking about, I was one of them in 2011);
  • and I forgot, some are domainers who can't wait to grab the best domains names;
  • I guess there are other examples.
I have not heard about any Registrants (particulars and brands): those concerned who will be buying these domains names. We have not heard about them because most of them don't know and have a very hard time following the process. It is like sometimes, when listening to politics: you just don't get it, so you drop it.

This is were I believe the GAC is important. It brings more common sense in the ICANN new gTLD program. The GAC, even if it wants to be the voice of Governments, is also a voice for end users: they are this huge population which is going to buy domain names. I thing it is important to remind those who lobby ICANN that Registrants are the one going to be affected if ICANN does not do its job.

For example, representatives of wine Geographical Indications are concerned by the GAC action. Only the GAC can protect wine GI representatives not to have their names thrown in the jungle of future new gTLD launching. Apparently, the GAC has looked into the problem of protecitng wine GIs:

The Communiqué says (page 3 of the document):
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
c. Strings for Further GAC Consideration
In addition to this safeguard advice, that GAC has identified certain gTLD strings where further GAC consideration may be warranted, including at the GAC meetings to be held in Durban.
i. Consequently, the GAC advises the ICANN Board to:
not proceed beyond Initial Evaluation with the following strings :
  • .shenzhen (IDN in Chinese)
  • .persiangulf
  • .guangzhou (IDN in Chinese)
  • .amazon (and IDNs in Japanese and Chinese)
  • .patagonia
  • .date
  • .spa
  • . yun
  • .thai
  • .zulu
  • .wine
  • .vin
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The same applies to other Communities and Industries where an applicant submitted a Standard application when it should have been a Community one (endorsed by a major representative). According to the recent GAC Communiqué published today, I feel users will be better protected.

If wine GIs are not safe yet, it gives us more time to find solutions, until the next ICANN meeting in Durban.

The GAC Communiqué can be downloaded here.

Fast note on the TMCH

Monday, April 8, 2013

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My letter to the ICANN board regarding the Protection of Wine Geographical Indications

Reading and watching the ICANN new gTLD program development with its lack of protection for entire Communities and groups, I decided to send a few tips to the board with the hope they will have a look at it. At this point, it does not matter whether they can help or not because the program is not launched yet. If ICANN wants to protect Wine Geographical Indications: there is still time.

This is how starts my letter to the attention of Mr Fadi Chehadé, CEO of ICANN and other members of the ICANN board:

Object of the letter: "Hints and solution for the protection of Wine Geographical Indications in the ICANN new gTLD program."

Dear Mr Fadi Chehadé, CEO of ICANN,

As a person involved - since 2008 - in the wine domain names that have just been introduced by the ICANN new gTLD program, I have been very happy to point out that there were 4 new gTLD applications posted on Reveal Day, June the 13th 2012: 3 applications for the .wine Top-Level Domain (in English) and one for .vin (in French).
Even if these applications are standard ones, it shows there is - definitely - a Wine community on Internet.

As I do not like to "multi-post", the rest of this letter should be published online soon and it is possible ICANN publishes it in its correspondences.

Update (April the 4): the article was published on CircleId with 719 views already.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New gTLDs: 2 major news

2 important information were published recently:
  1. Revised Registry Agreement (RRA) posted for Review is available here;
  2. GAC draft gTLD agenda for Beijing and advice to the ICANN Board on controversial or sensitive strings and applications is published here.