Final Report
of the
WIPO Internet Domain Name Process


April 30, 1999





1. The Internet can be very simply described as a, or the, network of networks. That simple technical description, however, lacks the eloquence to speak of the profound ways in which the Internet is affecting the way in which we communicate with each other, the way we express ourselves, the way we learn, the way we do business and the way in which we interact culturally. Given the fundamental changes that we sense are underway, we have difficulty in placing faith in a simple definition of technical function.

2. We are not yet at the stage of being able to articulate adequately what exactly the Internet is as a social phenomenon and why it is changing us. We can, however, point to certain features of the Internet that indicate that it is a distinct and profound phenomenon. Six such features can be mentioned:

(i) The Internet is something that increasingly large numbers of people throughout the world find an interest in being connected to. From 1990 to 1997, the estimated number of Internet users grew from around one million to around 70 million.1 While the United States of America still accounts for the large majority of Internet users,2 the rest of the world can hardly be described as disinterested. Between 1993 and 1996, the number of Internet hosts in Europe increased by about 600 per cent.3 Over the same period, the growth in Internet hosts in Africa and Asia amounted to about 840 per cent for each region.4

(ii) It is increasingly an affordable and relatively low-cost matter to become connected to the Internet and thus to be able to participate in the advantages that it offers. The telecommunications infrastructure is improving constantly and the cost of computer equipment continues to decrease. The estimated worldwide installed base of PCs in the home and in education increased from about 36 million units in 1992 to 118 million units in 1997.5 The Internet is a popular, rather than elitist, medium.

(iii) Reflecting this popular character, the Internet is multifunctional. Digital technology permits all forms of expression—text, sound and images—to be expressed in binary notation. The World Wide Web, a key component of the Internet, has provided the graphical interface and hypertext linking protocols to enable all such expressions to be shared on the Internet. In consequence, the purposes for which the Internet is now used encompass the full range of human activity: research, education, social communication, politics, entertainment and commerce.

(iv) The Internet does not have a central point of authority and control. Compared to other social institutions, it has developed in a spontaneous and autochthonous manner. Its technical development has been guided by protocols established through participatory decision-making processes by bodies such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and its subcommittees, and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). There has not been, however, a central rule-making entity that has exercised comprehensive legislative authority over the Internet.

(v) The Internet is multijurisdictional. Users can access it from any place on earth. Because of packet-switching technology, information may travel through various countries or jurisdictions in order to reach its destination.6 It is a global medium transposed on the historical system of separate physical jurisdictions.

(vi) The Internet is unspecifically regulated. It is affected by legislation and regulations that apply generally within the various jurisdictions of the world. But for the most part, until now, there have been few exercises of national legislative authority specifically directed at the Internet and no international legislative instruments specifically designed to regulate the Internet.

3. These special features of the Internet entail several consequences for the formulation of policy in relation to any facet of the Internet’s operation. The multijurisdictional and multifunctional nature of the Internet mean that, inevitably, many different interests in many different parts of the world will be concerned with any endeavor to formulate specific policies. Special care needs to be exercised to ensure that any policy developed for one interest or function does not impact unduly on, or interfere unduly with, other interests or functions.



4. The domain name system (DNS) serves the central function of facilitating users’ ability to navigate the Internet. It does so with the aid of two components; the domain name and its corresponding Internet Protocol (IP) number. A domain name is the human-friendly address of a computer that is usually in a form that is easy to remember or to identify, such as www.wipo.int. An IP number is the unique underlying numeric address, such as Distributed databases contain the lists of domain names and their corresponding IP numeric addresses and perform the function of mapping the domain names to their IP numeric addresses for the purpose of directing requests to connect computers on the Internet. The DNS is structured in a hierarchical manner which allows for the decentralized administration of name-to-address mapping. This last new characteristic has provided the basis for the remarkable speed at which new computers can be added to the Internet, while ensuring their accurate name resolution.

5. The DNS has been administered by IANA, pursuant to principles that were described in Request for Comments (RFC) 1591 of March 1994.7 The DNS operates on the basis of a hierarchy of names. At the top are the top-level domains, which are usually divided into two categories: the generic top-level domains (gTLDs) and the country code top-level domains (ccTLDs).

6. There are, at present, seven gTLDs. Three of these are open, in the sense that there are no restrictions on the persons or entities that may register names in them. These three gTLDs are .com, .net and .org. The other four gTLDs are restricted, in the sense that only certain entities meeting certain criteria may register names in them. They are .int, which is restricted to use by international organizations; .edu, which is restricted to use by four-year, degree-granting colleges and universities; .gov, which is restricted to use by agencies of the federal government of the United States of America; and .mil, which is restricted to use by the military of the United States of America.

7. There are at present 243 ccTLDs. Each of these domains bears a two-letter country code derived from Standard 3166 of the International Organization for Standardization (IS0 3166),8 for example .au (Australia), .br (Brazil), .ca (Canada), .eg (Egypt), .fr (France), .jp (Japan) and .za (South Africa). Some of these domains are open, in the sense that there are no restrictions on the persons or entities who may register in them. Others are restricted, in that only persons or entities satisfying certain criteria (for example, domicile within the territory) may register names in them.

8. Functionally, there is no distinction between the gTLDs and the ccTLDs. A domain name registered in a ccTLD provides exactly the same connectivity as a domain name registered in a gTLD. Nor can it be said that the gTLDs are open, whereas the ccTLDs are restricted. As mentioned, there are open gTLDs and ccTLDs, which contain no restrictions on use, and restricted gTLDs and ccTLDs, which restrict use to persons or entities meeting certain criteria.

9. At the date of publication of this Report, nearly 7.2 million domain names have been registered worldwide.9 Of these, approximately 1.8 million have been registered in the ccTLDs. The approximate weekly volume of new registrations is 21,000.



10. Domain names were intended to perform a technical function in a manner that was convenient to human users of the Internet. They were intended to provide addresses for computers that were easy to remember and to identify without the need to resort to the underlying IP numeric address. Precisely because they are easy to remember and to identify, however, domain names have come to acquire a supplementary existence as business or personal identifiers. As commercial activities have increased on the Internet, domain names have become part of the standard communication apparatus used by businesses to identify themselves, their products and their activities. Advertisements appearing in the media now routinely include a domain name address, along with other means of identification and communication, such as the corporate name, trademark and telephone and facsimile numbers. But, whereas the telephone and facsimile numbers consist of an anonymous string of numbers without any other significance, the domain name, because of its purpose of being easy to remember and to identify, often carries an additional significance which is connected with the name or mark of a business or its product or services.



11. Intellectual property consists in a series of rights in intellectual creations and in certain forms of identifiers. Generally speaking, there are two main policy bases that underlie intellectual property rights. The first is the policy of encouraging new intellectual creations. This is the main policy basis of patents, industrial designs and copyright. A patent, an industrial design or a copyright confers an exclusive right on the owner, for a finite period, to prevent others from exploiting its subject matter—an invention, a design or a literary or artistic work. The exclusive right enables the owner to recover a reward for originality and investment in the creation of originality, and thus serves as an incentive to further investment in the development of new intellectual creations. The second main policy basis is the orderly functioning of the market through the avoidance of confusion and deception. This is the main policy basis of trademarks, rights in geographical indications and protection against unfair competition. A trademark enables consumers to identify the source of a product, to link the product with its manufacturer in widely distributed markets. The exclusive right to the use of the mark, which may be of indefinite duration, enables the owner to prevent others from misleading consumers into wrongly associating products with an enterprise from which they do not originate.

12. Intellectual property has become a central element in economic and cultural policy in a world in which the source of wealth is increasingly intellectual, as opposed to physical, capital and in which markets are distributed across the globe. By becoming members of WIPO, 171 States have subscribed to the importance of promoting the protection of intellectual property. Many of these have also adhered to some or all of the 16 other multilateral treaties administered by WIPO, which establish international frameworks for each of the rights that make up intellectual property or systems for obtaining protection in multiple countries. In addition, the 134 States that are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have subscribed to a comprehensive, complementary code of intellectual property protection in the Agreement on the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement).

13. The discipline of intellectual property is concerned not simply with the establishment of rights, but also with the definition of the proper scope of those rights and their relation with other areas of public policy. It is concerned thus, for example, with defining the boundary between unfair and unjustified misappropriation of another’s intellectual creations or business identifiers, on the one hand, and fair use or justified experimental and non-commercial use, on the other hand. It is equally concerned, for example, with regulating any areas of tension between competition policy and intellectual property policy. This definition of the proper scope of intellectual property rights and their relation to other areas of public policy is the subject of case law and legislation that have been developed over many decades throughout the world.



14. The organization and management of the DNS has been the subject of intensive discussions throughout the world over the past two and a half years. These discussions have been motivated by a desire to institutionalize the functions associated with the management of the DNS in a manner which will permit the system to accommodate the growing volume of traffic on the Internet and to be administered in a stable, reliable, competitive and open way, taking into account the interests of all Internet stakeholders.

15. An early stage in the discussions was the work of the International Ad Hoc Committee (IAHC), which culminated in the publication on February 4, 1997, of a final report containing recommendations for the administration and management of gTLDs.10 The recommendations were directed at enhancing the administration and operation of the gTLDs and balancing concerns for stable operations, continued growth, business opportunities and legal constraints.

16. On July 1, 1997, as part of his Administration’s Framework for Global Electronic Commerce, the President of the United States of America, William Clinton, instructed the United States Secretary of Commerce to privatize the DNS in a manner that increased competition and facilitated international participation in its management. The United States Department of Commerce issued a Request for Comments on the administration of the DNS on July 2, 1997. In this document, public input was sought on issues relating to the overall framework of the DNS administration, the creation of new top-level domains, policies for domain name registrars, and trademark issues.

17. On the basis of comments received, on January 30, 1998, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an agency of the United States Department of Commerce, issued for comment A Proposal to Improve the Technical Management of Internet Names and Addresses (the "Green Paper").11 The Green Paper proposed for discussion a number of measures relating to the administration of the DNS, including the creation by the private sector of a new corporation located in the United States of America and managed by a globally and functionally representative Board of Directors.

18. Following the closure of the comment period, NTIA issued, on June 5, 1998, its Statement of Policy on the Management of Internet Names and Addresses (the "White Paper").12 The White Paper confirmed the call contained in the Green Paper for the creation of a new, private, not-for-profit corporation responsible for coordinating specific DNS functions for the benefit of the Internet as a whole. It noted:

   "The U.S. Government is committed to a transition that will allow the private sector to take leadership for DNS management. Most commenters shared this goal. While international organizations may provide specific expertise or act as advisors to the new corporation, the U.S. continues to believe, as do most commenters, that neither national governments acting as sovereigns nor intergovernmental organizations acting as representatives of governments should participate in management of Internet names and addresses. Of course, national governments now have, and will continue to have, authority to manage or establish policy for their own ccTLDs."

19. Following the publication of the White Paper, a process occurred which resulted in the formation of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). By-laws have been established for ICANN, and an Interim Chairman, an Interim President and CEO, and an Interim Board of Directors have been appointed as a result of the process and the international discussions that accompanied it. The by-laws, the composition of the Interim Board and other pertinent documentation concerning ICANN can be found at ICANN’s website, www.icann.org.13

20. Since its formation, ICANN has been systematically addressing the various tasks that need to be accomplished under the White Paper’s mandate. The various actions undertaken and meetings held in this regard are referenced on ICANN’s website. One such task, corresponding to the general policy objective established for the transition of introducing competition in the administration of domain name registrations, was the establishment of a policy for the accreditation of registrars, with a view to accrediting five registrars, on a testbed basis, who would be authorized to receive and process applications for domain name registrations in the .com, .net and .org domains. The registry administrator for these domains will continue to be Networks Solutions Inc. (NSI), which to date has performed the functions of both sole registrar and registry administrator for these domains under various contractual authorities. In February 1999, ICANN published for comment "Guidelines for Accreditation of Internet Domain Name Registrars and for the Selection of Registrars for the Shared Registry System Testbed for .COM, .NET and .ORG Domains." In response to public comments that the guidelines should be "as lightweight as possible,"14 ICANN introduced certain changes to the draft guidelines and, at its Board meeting in Singapore on March 4, 1999, adopted a "Statement of Registrar Accreditation Policy."15 This Statement includes a number of provisions that reflect coordination and consistency with the recommendations that were contained in the Interim Report of the WIPO Internet Domain Name Process ("The Management of Internet Names and Addresses: Intellectual Property Issues").16 Furthermore, the Statement indicates that the Registrar Accreditation Policy which it establishes may be reviewed following ICANN’s consideration of the present (final) WIPO Report.17

21. Most recently, on April 21, 1999, ICANN announced the five companies that were selected to participate in the initial testbed phase of the Shared Registry System for the .com, .net and .org domains.18 The testbed phase is expected to continue for two months until the end of June, at which time an additional 29 companies are expected to be accredited to open up competition in registration services.



22. One consistent thread in the fabric of discussions and consultations concerning the management of the DNS has been the interface between domain names as addresses on the Internet and intellectual property or, more specifically, trademarks and other recognized rights of identity as they had existed in the world before the arrival of the Internet. It has become apparent to all that a considerable amount of tension has unwittingly been created between, on the one hand, addresses on the Internet in a human-friendly form which carry the power of connotation and identification and, on the other hand, the recognized rights of identification in the real world, consisting of trademarks and other rights of business identification, the developing field of personality rights, whether attaching to real or fictional characters, and geographical indications. One system—the DNS—is largely privately administered and gives rise to registrations that result in a global presence, accessible from anywhere in the world. The other system—the intellectual property rights system—is publicly administered on a territorial basis and gives rise to rights that are exercisable only within the territory concerned. In this respect, the intersection of the DNS and the intellectual property system is but one example of a larger phenomenon: the intersection of a global medium in which traffic circulates without cognizance of borders with historical, territorially based systems that emanate from the sovereign authority of the territory.

23. The tension that exists between the nature of the two systems has been exacerbated by a number of predatory and parasitical practices that have been adopted by some to exploit the lack of connection between the purposes for which the DNS was designed and those for which intellectual protection exists. These practices include the deliberate, bad faith registration as domain names of well-known and other trademarks in the hope of being able to sell the domain names to the owners of those marks, or simply to take unfair advantage of the reputation attached to those marks.

24. The IAHC recommendations took note of the tension that existed between domain names and intellectual property rights and included specific procedures designed to resolve conflicts between the two. The White Paper of the United States Government confined its specific recommendations to the desirable features of the management of the DNS and to the transition of that management to the new corporation. In respect of intellectual property, the White Paper contained the following passage:

  "The U.S. Government will seek international support to call upon the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to initiate a balanced and transparent process, which includes the participation of trademark holders and members of the Internet community who are not trademark holders, to (1) develop recommendations for a uniform approach to resolving trademark/domain name disputes involving cyberpiracy (as opposed to conflicts between trademark holders with legitimate competing rights), (2) recommend a process for protecting famous trademarks in the generic top level domains, and (3) evaluate the effects, based on studies conducted by independent organizations, such as the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, of adding new gTLDs and related dispute resolution procedures on trademark and intellectual property holders. These findings and recommendations could be submitted to the board of the new corporation for its consideration in conjunction with its development of registry and registrar policy and the creation and introduction of new gTLDs."

25. Since the publication of the White Paper, WIPO has received the approval of its Member States19 to conduct, and has undertaken, the international process called for in the White Paper.




26. The WIPO Internet Domain Name Process comprised three stages.

27. The first stage was concerned with obtaining consensus on the issues to be addressed in the WIPO Process, the procedures to be used and the timetable in which the Process would take place. To this end a Request for Comments (WIPO RFC-1) was issued on July 8, 1998, with a deadline for receipt of comments of August 24, 1998. WIPO RFC-1 detailed as the terms of reference for the Process the three issues mentioned in the White Paper, namely, uniform dispute resolution procedures, a mechanism for the protection of famous marks and the evaluation of the effects on intellectual property rights of adding new gTLDs. It added a further term of reference, which WIPO considered to be appropriate in the context, namely, dispute prevention or practices in the administration of the DNS that are designed to reduce the incidence of conflict between domain names and intellectual property rights. Sixty-six governments, intergovernmental organizations, professional associations, corporations and individuals provided comments in response to WIPO RFC-1.20

28. The second stage of the WIPO Process consisted of seeking comments and consulting on the issues defined after consideration of the comments received on WIPO RFC-1. To this end, a second Request for Comments (WIPO RFC-2) was issued on September 16, 1998, with a deadline for receipt of comments of November 6, 1998. Seventy-two governments, intergovernmental organizations, professional associations, corporations and individuals provided comments in response to WIPO RFC-2.21 Another important part of the second stage was the holding of regional consultation meetings in order to discuss and to receive comments on the issues under consideration. A total of 848 persons attended those regional consultation meetings. Some 155 of them made presentations and interventions. The schedule of meetings held was as follows:

First Series of Regional Consultations
(October to November 1998)

Regional Consultation

Participation (approx.)


San Francisco, California, United States of America 35 22
Brussels, Belgium 98 13
Washington, DC, United States of America 45 15
Mexico City, Mexico 85 12
Cape Town, South Africa 30 12
Asunción, Paraguay 160 18
Tokyo, Japan 75 8
Hyderabad, India 69 10
Budapest, Hungary 85 10
Cairo, Egypt 86 20
Sydney, Australia 80 15


848 155

29. The third stage of the WIPO Process consisted of the publication, on December 23, 1998, of an Interim Report containing interim recommendations, which were, in turn, opened to comments, in the form of a third Request for Comments (WIPO RFC-3). By the date of the closure of the period for comments, March 19, 1999, 196 governments, intergovernmental organizations, professional associations, corporations and individuals had provided comments in response to WIPO RFC-3.22 In addition, a second round of regional consultation meetings was held to discuss and to receive comments on the Interim Report. A total of 416 persons attended the second round of regional consultation meetings. Some 77 of them made presentations and interventions. The schedule of meetings held was as follows:

Second Series of Regional Consultations
(January to March 1999)

Regional Consultation



Toronto, Canada 48 11
Singapore 80 14
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 51 4
Dakar, Senegal 117 10
Brussels, Belgium 50 13
Washington, DC, United States of America 70 25
Total 416 77



30. In conducting the Process, WIPO has used three modalities to solicit participation from the widest international range of interested parties:

(i) WIPO established a website (http://wipo2.wipo.int) in English, French and Spanish as a primary vehicle for communication concerning the WIPO Process. In addition to the publication of information and documents concerning the WIPO Process, the website contained a facility for interested persons to register in order to receive communications relating to developments in the WIPO Process. Some 1,358 persons or organizations from 74 countries registered under the facility.23 The website also contained the text of all comments received in response to the three Requests for Comments issued (WIPO RFC-1, RFC-2 and RFC-3). It further established an open listserver discussion forum. The list, which was not moderated, was intended to allow interested parties to discuss freely the widest possible range of questions arising in connection with the WIPO Process. Contributions to the listserver were not formally considered as comments in response to RFCs. The number of subscribers to the listserver, at the date of this Report, was 420.24

(ii) Since the Internet is a global medium but access to it is not universal, WIPO also published in paper form each Request for Comments that it issued and sent these to the governments and industrial property offices of each of its member States, as well as to each non-governmental organization that was accredited as an observer with WIPO.

(iii) As mentioned above, WIPO has also sought to complement the Internet- and paper-based consultations with meetings organized in various venues throughout the regions of the world.


Panel of Experts

31. In order to assist it in the conduct of the Process, WIPO established a panel of experts to advise it in the formulation of recommendations. The composition of the panel was determined in an endeavor to achieve both a geographical balance of representation and a balance of sectoral interests in the Internet. The names and affiliations of the members of the panel are given in Annex I. WIPO wishes to place on record its deep gratitude to the members of the panel for their advice and untiring efforts to assist constructively in developing workable and acceptable recommendations on dealing with the interface between domain names and intellectual property. This Report remains nevertheless the responsibility of WIPO and does not necessarily imply that each expert subscribes to every recommendation contained in it.



32. Before moving, in the remainder of the Report, to the issues considered in the WIPO Process and to the recommendations made in relation to those issues, the methodological principles which have guided the formulation of the recommendations should be made explicit. There are five such principles.

33. Recognizing the global nature of the Internet and the diverse range of purposes for which it is used, WIPO has endeavored to design a process which was international and which allowed for participation by all sectors interested in the use and future development of the Internet. While the mandate of WIPO relates to intellectual property protection, it is recognized that intellectual property cannot be considered in isolation in the context of a multifunctional global medium.

34. It is further recognized that the goal of this WIPO Process is not to create new rights of intellectual property, nor to accord greater protection to intellectual property in cyberspace than that which exists elsewhere. Rather, the goal is to give proper and adequate expression to the existing, multilaterally agreed standards of intellectual property protection in the context of the new, multijurisdictional and vitally important medium of the Internet and the DNS that is responsible for directing traffic on the Internet.25 The WIPO Process seeks to find procedures that will avoid the unwitting diminution or frustration of agreed policies and rules for intellectual property protection.

35. Conversely, it is not intended that the means of according proper and adequate protection to agreed standards of intellectual property should result in a diminution in, or otherwise adversely affect, the enjoyment of other agreed rights, such as the rights guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.26

36. The central importance of the Internet and its capacity to serve the diverse interests of a rapidly expanding body of users is fundamental. A constant consideration has therefore been to ensure that the recommendations of the WIPO Process are practical and do not interfere with the functionality of the Internet by imposing unreasonable constraints on the high-volume and automated operations of domain name registration authorities.

37. The dynamic nature of the technologies that underlie the expansion and development of the Internet is also recognized. The WIPO Process also aimed to ensure that its recommendations do not in any way condition or affect the future technological development of the Internet.



38. In the WIPO Interim Report, as well as in paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 above, a distinction is drawn between "open" TLDs (whether gTLDs or ccTLDs), in which there are no restrictions on the persons or entities who may register in them, and "restricted" TLDs, in which only persons or entities satisfying certain criteria, such as domicile in the relevant territory, may register domain names. In the Interim Report, it was also suggested that, while the recommendations of the WIPO process were limited to the gTLDs, they were potentially applicable to all open TLDs in which domain names may be registered without restriction and in which domain names may be bought and sold.27

39. The comments made on the distinction drawn between "open" and "restricted" TLDs were divided. Certain parties were favorable to the distinction and considered it to be helpful as a means of indicating the functional similarities between gTLDs and ccTLDs and, in consequence, the similarity of the problems that may be encountered in respect of the interface between domain names and intellectual property rights.28 Others regarded the distinction as loose and lacking in definitional precision because of the variety of conditions that apply to registrations in the ccTLDs.29 Some parties, furthermore, considered the distinction to be dangerous, as it could be used for purposes other than solutions to problems arising out of the interface between domain names and intellectual property rights and as a means of limiting the operations of ccTLDs.30 Our views on the purpose and usefulness of this distinction, after consideration of the comments received, are set out in the ensuing paragraphs.

40. The purpose of the distinction between "open" and "restricted" TLDs was to draw attention to the fundamental and crucial feature of the Internet as a global medium. A domain name registration, whether in a gTLD or a ccTLD, gives rise to a global presence. Many of the difficulties encountered in dealing with the interface between domain names and intellectual property rights arise from this fact. As pointed out above, intellectual property rights are territorially based and can be enforced only within the territory for which they are granted. A domain name registered in one country can (but does not necessarily) form the basis for activities in another country in which a territorially limited intellectual property right, granted under a legislatively sanctioned system, exists. The domain name can (but does not necessarily) lead to consumer confusion and deception and can (but does not necessarily) infringe the territorially limited intellectual property right. In consequence, the protection and enforcement of recognized territorially limited intellectual property rights can be jeopardized by activities originating under a domain name registration in another jurisdiction, which can create practical difficulties both in relation to the assessment of whether the intellectual property right is being violated and in relation to the enforcement of the intellectual property right against infringing activities.

41. Where restrictions apply to the persons or entities that can register in a TLD, those restrictions may (but do not necessarily) provide means for reducing the tension between domain names and territorially based intellectual property rights. For example, if one of the restrictions that is applied is domicile in the territory to which a ccTLD relates, the enforcement of any pertinent intellectual property right that is infringed by the domain name can be facilitated by the connection to jurisdiction, and thus amenability to legal process, that the restriction of domicile imposes. Or, for example, if the restriction applicable to the TLD defines carefully the type of entity that can register in the TLD, such as the requirement in .int that the registrant be an international organization, this restriction may operate to reduce the potential for conflict between domain names and intellectual property rights, since it removes the possibility for commercial entities to register in the domain. We do not recommend that restrictions be introduced in respect of TLDs, but merely draw attention to the fact that restrictions can have an effect on the relationship between domain names and intellectual property rights.

42. Where there are no restrictions that apply on registrations in a TLD, the potential for conflict between domain names and intellectual property rights is heightened. Functionally, in such a case, whether the TLD is a gTLD or a ccTLD, registrations of domain names can give rise to the same sort of problems concerning the interface between domain names and intellectual property rights. Our intention in drawing the distinction between "open" and "restricted" TLDs was simply to highlight the fact that the problems arising between domain names and intellectual property rights in unrestricted domains are similar. Given the commonality of these problems, it follows that any comprehensive solution to the problems encountered between domain names and intellectual property rights would be most effective if applied in such a way as to recognize the global nature of the Internet and the global presence given by a domain name registration. The concept of a tax haven is well known. A ccTLD may be operated in such a way as to become an intellectual property piracy haven; that is, it may be administered outside the recognized system of international protection for intellectual property and, thereby, increase transaction costs for the enforcement of intellectual property rights and reduce the efficiency of the international intellectual property system.

43. WIPO recognizes that the recommendations contained in this Report are intended to apply only to the gTLDs. It also recognizes the international nature of the Internet and offers the recommendations contained in the present Report also for the consideration of those administrators of ccTLDs that wish to take cognizance of the responsibility that follows from the global presence given by a domain name registration. In response to the specific request of certain administrators of ccTLDs, Annex VIII contains detailed guidance on which recommendations in the present Report WIPO considers are potentially useful to ccTLDs, in order to ensure a comprehensive and efficient solution to the problems arising out of the interface between domain names and intellectual property rights. It is, obviously, for the administrators of the ccTLDs to consider whether or not they wish to adopt any of those recommendations.



44. The present Report will, in accordance with the mandate conferred upon WIPO, be submitted to the Board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for its consideration. The Report will also be submitted to the Member States of WIPO for their consideration.

[Chapter 2 follows]


[1] David N. Townsend, "Regulatory Issues for Electronic Commerce: Briefing Report," Report to the International Telecommunication Union 8th Regulatory Colloquium, 1998, page 8; Global Internet Project, Internet Foundations: Breaking Technology Bottelnecks, at http://www.gip.org, page 4.

[2] See World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA), Digital Planet—The Global Information Economy (October, 1998), page 21, which reports that the United States of America accounted for 61.9 per cent of Worldwide Internet Hosts.

[3] Global Internet Project, op. cit., page 1.

[4] Ibid.

[5] WITSA, op. cit., page 20.

[6] "Internet addresses have no fixed location. They are purely conceptual. There is no central office. The routers which direct packets to the packet address at rates between 100,000 and 500,000 a second can know only the next logical point in a routing table and which outbound circuit is available to carry the packet. Packets are free to traverse the globe on countless circuits to geographically indeterminate end points. The technology provides assurance that the packets are reassembled in the right order and are very likely not corrupted by data errors." John R. Mathiason and Charles C. Kuhlman, "International Public Regulation of the Internet: Who Will Give You Your Domain Name?" (New York University, March 1998) at http://www.intlmgt.com/domain.html.

[7] See http://wipo.isi.edu/in-notes/rfc1591.text. A number of other RFCs have also provided guidance for the administration of the DNS.

[8] The attribution of a country code to a domain by IANA entailed no recognition of the status of the territory designated by the country code. As stated in RFC 1591, "The IANA is not in the business of deciding what is and what is not a country."

[9] Statistics from Netnames Ltd., at http://www.netnames.com.

[10] See http://www.gtld-mou.org/draft-iahc-recommend-00.html. The Policy Oversight Committee (POC) submitted a comment on WIPO RFC-1 urging that all of its work should be made available for consideration in the WIPO Process and by the Panel of Experts: Comment of Policy Oversight Committee (July 15, 1998 – RFC-1); see also International Association for the Protection of Industrial Property, Group Reports Q143: Internet Domain Names, Trademarks and Trade Names, XXXVIIth Congress, Rio de Janeiro, 1998, at paragraphs 1.13 – 1.15 (Yearbook 1998/VI).

.[11] The RFC, the Green Paper and comments received in response to those documents are available at http://www.ntia.doc.gov.

[12] See http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/domainname/6_5_98dns.htm.

[13] The Department of Commerce of the United States of America and ICANN have recently entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the intention of coordinating the on-going transition of the management of the DNS; see http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/domainname/icann-memorandum.htm.

[14] See ICANN’s website at http://www.icann.org/

[15] See http://www.icann.org/registrars/policy_statement.html

[16] See http://wipo2.wipo.int.

[17] "The World Intellectual Property Organization is expected to submit to ICANN final recommendations concerning intellectual property issues in mid-1999. ICANN’s consideration of those recommendations may result in some modifications to these policies."

[18] The list of selected companies.

[19] Such approval was given at the meeting of the Assemblies of Member States in September 1998; see documents A/33/4 and A/33/8.

[20] See Annex II.

[21] See Annex II.

[22] See Annex II.

[23] See Annex III.

[24] See Annex III.

[25] See Comment of European Community and its Member States (November 3, 1998 – RFC-2); Comment of Mr. Philip Sheppard of European Brands Association (AIM) (Brussels Consultation - 1998); Comment of Ms. Sally Abel of International Trademark Association (San Francisco Consultation). These comments are available on the website of the WIPO Process. References in the footnotes to comments are not intended to be exhaustive.

[26] See Comment of Domain Name Rights Coalition (November 6, 1998 – RFC-2); Comment of Electronic Frontier Foundation (November 6, 1998 – RFC-2); Comment of Mr. R.A. Reese (San Francisco Consultation). It may be noted that the protection of property and, specifically, of intellectual property is also recognized in the major international instruments of human rights: see Article 27(2), Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948); Article 15, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966).

[27] Para. 36 of the Interim Report.

[28] See Comment of Bell Atlantic (February 26, 1999 – RFC-3); Comment of the International Intellectual Property Alliance (March 12, 1999 – RFC-3); Comment of Mr. Elliot Noss of Tucows Interactive Limited (Toronto Consultation); Comment of Mr. Amadeu Abril i Abril of the Council of Registrars (Brussels Consultation – 1999); see also Comments of Network Solutions on ICANN proposed by-laws changes, at http://www.icann.org/comments-mail/comment-so/msg00075.html).

[29] See Comment of Mr. Anthony van Couvering of the International Association of Top-Level Domains (March 19, 1999 – RFC-3); Comment of Mr. Keith Gymer (Brussels Consultation – 1999); Comment of Mr. Mathias Kerber of Singapore Telecom (Singapore Consultation).

[30] See Comment of the Brazilian Steering Committee (March 10, 1999 – RFC-3); Comment of Government of Sweden, National Post and Telecom Agency (March 12, 1999 – RFC-3); Comment of Mr. Paul Kane of the Internet Computer Bureau (Brussels Consultation – 1999); Comment of Mr. William Black of Nominet UK (Brussels Consultation – 1999).