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1/25/06

WIPO Plans to continue helping companies steal Domain Names

Coming up on a possible new round of TLDs being offered, WIPO and the corporations they represent are making their first preemptive strike against individual users of the Internet.

From FT.com - - Cybersquatting – registering a website address using other people’s names or trademarks – is on the rise and will get worse with the introduction of new global address tags such as .travel, .jobs and .asia, the World Intellectual Property Organisation warned on Wednesday.
Here they are beginning to set up how they can help companies steal domain names as soon as new tlds are introduced.

Notice how they mention cybersquatting, but ignore Reverse Domain Name Hijacking, where companies go after owners of domain names that are not similar enough to their trademark for court action, and threaten lawsuits they know the owner of the domain name cannot afford. They do this with teams of IP lawyers, knowing that some of these users will turn over their legal domain names rather than risk being sued.

The introduction in December 1999 of a cheap and easy system of arbitration – for which Wipo charges $1,500 – has cut the rewards to cybersquatters who could previously demand huge sums for returning web addresses to their rightful owners
Let's ignore the fact that complainants win in more than 80% of all cases. Let's ignore the fact WIPO arbitration has led to some of the worst decisions in the history of all types of arbitration.

Let's ignore the fact that they consider the fact you have not built your website yet as evidence that you have "no interest" in the domain name. Funny, nowhere in the terms of service when you register a domain name, does it say you must have your website up and running in any specific period of time.

That is the same as saying you haven't received or made any telephone calls on your phone this month and there is a company that wants your phone number, so we are going to give it to them. Ridiculous concept? WIPO does it all the time.

Mr Gurry said strong preventive measures were needed to prevent abusive registrations of web addresses in the new international domains, especially unrestricted domains such as .asia. Mechanisms could include giving trademark owners first claim on their names before registration is opened to all comers.
Sunrise periods are a travesty. First of all, more than one comapny uses the same string of letters in their trademarks, although they file their trademark in different countries, states, etc. Some register the same string of letters and sell different products or use them in commerce of a different nature.

Example: Apple Computers and Apple Records. Furthermore the word Apple is available for anyone to register as a mark as long as they are not directly competing with companies who are using the word Apple in commerce in the same category as you intend to register in.

So, who do they suppose should get apple.whatever in all future rounds? Which company is entitled to the word apple first? What about comapnies that don't even exist yet that may want to use the word apple.something for their domain name and don't plan to compete with any existing marks?

I'm all for going after real cybersquatters. But the IP interests with WIPO as their muscle have been able to do online what the law has never allowed them to do offline. That is to actually OWN the string of letters, rather than just have permission to use that string of letters in commerce in a specific category in a specific geographical location.



They plan to let companies insure that no similar names will ever be available in any tld in the future. People need to stop them. If you want to get involved, send an email to majordomo@gnso.icann.org with subscribe ga in the body of the message.

by Chris McElroy
More things that just piss me off

2 Comments:

Blogger Linnet 'innit?' said...

Sorry to say that I have first-hand experience of the tactic of threatening someone with legal action if they don;t hand over their domain name. I fell for it and, although I refused to hand the name over, I did agree to close the site down and told them they could pick up the domain name when my registration expired. It wrecked my thriving magazine and is the reason that I registered my own name as a domain - I'd like to see some greasy attorney tell me I can't use my own name for any purpose I choose. I could still kick myself for having caved in so easily, to this day, and that was back in 2000!

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that happened to you. I offer assistance to people who get threatened that way. No charge. I just don't like seeing it happen.

Chris McElroy aka NameCritic

11:04 AM  

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