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RFC-3, gTLDs and ICANN need to KISS or we can't
Dear "Internet Community",
I've been reading RFC-3 ad the proposals and messages about gTLDs as well as
the arguments about trademarks issues on the internet. I take special note
of Professor A. Micheal Froomkin's critique of the proposal which neatly
sums up some of the terrible flaws inherit in RFC-3. This discussion is
important to me because I have been thinking of getting my own domain just
for the purpose of establishing a fun and easy to remember address for
friends and family.
After all this reading, it seems to me that I've just read more rhetoric
than I can usually stomach at one time and, with the exception of one lucid
article and one obvious suggestion to junk the whole top level domain
concept, I've seen very little intelligent analysis of the real issues at
hand. I am pretty sure the problems can be summarized in a few paragraphs.
There is a collision between two namespaces, the domain names of the
internet and trademarks or "famous marks" - whatever they are. These name
collision issues really amount to two problems. Everything else being
discussed: piracy and the other problems hinge on how these two issues are
First, there is a problem when two different organizations with legitimate
ownership on a trademark in their respective areas (business, geographic or
what have you) wish to use the same domain name.
Second, there is a problem where a legitimate trademark owner wishes to
eliminate use of their trademark by third parties who (they claim) have no
rights to the trademark. They also wish to eliminate use of their trademark
throughout the gTLDs. And they apparently want their protection to cover
other usage and even misspellings.
Now the first problem mirrors the same problem in the real world. So a
simple solution would be to make some gTLDs equivalent to their real world
counterparts in trademarks and registries. I would suggest using the
existing gTLDs and ccTLDs where appropriate and adding other top level
domains in order to map the system back onto the real-world organizations
that manage trademarks locally, nationally, and internationally. In fact,
let the "famous marks" have their own top level unqualified names (like real
life) and they can duke it out in the courts when two organizations want
national, or global access under the same name.
The second part of the problem is solved by a corollary to the first. Once
certain unqualified and/or top level domains are established for famous name
use, then all other top level domains should be unrestricted and cannot be
the subject of dispute. Everything else is first come, first served. This
too, mirrors real life. For example my last name WIlson is also someone's
trademark. But they cannot stop me from hanging it over my door or putting
it on my own mailbox. Because they have no rights in that domain. Likewise I
cannot see why corporations should be allowed to stamp out use of their name
under every gTLD.
So if I am looking for a famous mark on the web, I would know to how to find
it either by looking for an unqualified name as I suggest, and/or looking in
*specific* top level domains assigned for trademarks and doing business
under trademarks. And if I want to register my trademark within one of those
top level domains, I can rest assured that I am protected. Meanwhile other
gTLDs can be used with similarly named sub-domains for *free expression*,
user groups, even satire or any other category for which their creators
intend. And the market should ultimately be allowed to decide how many, and
what kind of gTLDs exist. (Although I am not opposed to starting with a set
of new gTLDs which seem to fit the community's needs.)
If anyone out there agrees with me I suggest you let us hear your voice
before we get RFC-3 by default.
Submitted for your comments,