Advisory Committee Commentary on the Names Council Resolution
(26 October 2001)
on the Names Council Resolution
26 October 2001
In August 2001, GAC became
aware of anomalies in registration practices during the .info
sunrise period with respect to country names. Accordingly, GAC in Montevideo
considered the question and published conclusions with respect to country
names in its Communiqué.1 The ICANN
Board supported the GAC recommendations in principle and decided that
such names should be registered by the Registry to ICANN for the time
being unless registered by a valid trademark holder.2
The Board has also initiated an Action Plan to address other aspects
of the issue and to report before the March 2002 Accra meeting.3
These recent developments
have given rise to some discussion in the ICANN Community, notably on
the DNSO lists. The Names Council, on 11 October 2001 adopted a Resolution
GAC has comments and reservations
about the Names Council resolution. In the interests of a transparent
and informed discussion, and hopefully with a view to a resolution of
any outstanding difficulties, GAC submits this commentary for the consideration
of ICANN and all other parties concerned.
GAC would also recall that
this is not the first time that it has addressed this issue. In its
November 2000 Marina del Rey opinion on new gTLDs,5
GAC stated that:
3.5 The GAC discussed
geographical, geopolitical, and ethnic concepts in relation to new
gTLDs. These discussions will continue in subsequent meetings of the
3.6 The GAC notes that
WIPO Member States have asked WIPO to consider and make recommendations
on issues related to bad faith, abusive, misleading or unfair use
of personal names, International Non-proprietary Names (INNs) for
Pharmaceutical Substances, names of international intergovernmental
organizations, geographical indications, indications of source or
geographical terms, and trade names.
3.6.1 WIPO's report
may lead to the development of policies in these areas. In these circumstances,
the registration policies for new gTLDs, as approved by ICANN, could
make reference to the WIPO 2nd Domain Names Process and provide for
ready adoption of any ICANN policies resulting from this process.
Accordingly, should registration policies initially implemented by
new gTLDs allow for registrations of names in any of these categories,
registrants should be made aware that the adoption of such policies
may have potential impact on registrations.
Had this advice been taken
at the time, any registrant in the new TLDs registering a name in any
of the categories of names addressed by the WIPO report would have done
so in the full knowledge that a policy development process arising from
the WIPO report could put at risk those registrations. GAC's attention
was drawn to the registration of large numbers of country names in .info
during the sunrise period and upon further investigation it was evident
that a large number of these registrations had not met the necessary
criteria. In the circumstances, and in light of its previous statements,
the GAC advised ICANN to take steps to reserve country names in .info
and assign them to the corresponding governments and public authorities,
at their request.
Such action provides an option,
within a small part of the DNS, for many countries that have expressed
serious concerns about this issue. The GAC's recommendation in Montevideo
is a focused response to an issue that is of great concern to many countries.
GAC is also aware that many
governments that may have a concern about the registration of their
country names in .info are not yet aware of these developments.
Furthermore, registration of a domain name tends to create expectations
of continuing use by Registrants. In the circumstances, the GAC's advice
sought to avoid conflict between such expectations and the expressed
interest of a number of countries to ensure that country names are used
in the interests of the general public in the country concerned.
The recent WIPO resolution6
mandates special sessions of the Standing Committee on Trademarks (SCT)7
to address each aspect of the WIPO-2 Report.8
The SCT is asked to submit a report by September 2002.
Following thorough discussion,
the GAC Communiqué addresses primarily country names in .info
according to ISO 3166-1.9 In developing
its response, the GAC consulted with both ICANN and Afilias with a view
to ensuring a feasible and workable solution.
From the point of view of
a number of governments and public authorities, this is a minimum acceptable
position and leaves open a range of related issues to be addressed in
It follows that resolution
that has been adopted by the Names Council raises several specific problems
from GAC's point of view. In general, the debate within the DNSO appears
not to recognise the major effort made by GAC members to circumscribe
and limit their requirement for reservation of the names of countries
in .info according to ISO 3166-1, as well as actively
seeking cooperation with Afilias regarding the approach..
The GAC, provides the following
comments in relation to aspects of the Names Council's resolution:
1. That while it understands
the concerns of the GAC, caution should be exercised to avoid a short-term
reaction to a problem that is not inherent to dot info.
The GAC acknowledges that
the problem is not inherent to dot info, however, the GAC made the
recommendation to the ICANN Board because of the 'special nature of
.info' and in response to significant concerns raised with the GAC
prior to the Montevideo meeting. It has not suggested that the reservation
be applied to any other gTLD.
2. That there is not
a full understanding of the implications for suppliers and users of
retrospective action of the kind GAC seeks.
The GAC discussed their
proposal with Afilias staff during the Montevideo meeting. The reservation
as recommended by the GAC, does not hinder Afilias in the administration
of their registration process of names in .info and as such, there
are no retrospective implications for suppliers and users.
It should also be remembered
that the GAC first flagged concerns about the use of geographical
and geopolitical names as an issue in November 2000. In particular,
the GAC specifically recommended that the issues under consideration
in the WIPO 2 report and the possible impact of ongoing policy discussions
be raised with registrants.
3. That, due to the inherent complexity, the best forum for governments
to seek solutions to the problems perceived by the GAC is the existing
forum of such intellectual property expertise, namely the inter-governmental
specialised UN agency, the World Intellectual Property Organisation
(WIPO) combined with the existing forum for representing the internet
community in policy making, the DNSO, and other relevant stakeholders.
WIPO is a member of the
GAC and as such, the GAC is aware of the work being undertaken by
WIPO in this area. WIPO has referred the question back to its member
governments who have decided on the immediate follow-up.
It must also be acknowledged
that as the domain name system operates in a dynamic environment,
the GAC is aware that it may be called on to provide advice in specific
areas that may precede the work of inter-governmental organisations
such as WIPO. In this vein, ICANN is to be commended for taking action,
as it has done.
In response to the request
to the ICANN Board:
(a) To recommend to
the GAC that it reconsiders its recommendation in this matter in the
light of the work already in progress at WIPO following the recent
WIPO report 'The Recognition of Rights and the use of Names in the
Internet Domain Name System; and
(b) To encourage the
GAC and all interested parts of the ICANN structure to contribute
to WIPO's work in this respect.
The GAC supports the notion
that all interested parts of the ICANN structure contribute to WIPO's
work not only in respect to geographic identifiers , but in relation
to the work of WIPO more generally. Many members of the GAC are also
Member States of WIPO and as such are well-informed on the work being
(c) to invite the Names
Council to participate in the discussion group on ISO 3166-1 names.
The GAC welcomes the opportunity
to discuss the issue with the DNSO on the understanding that the interested
parties, including governments can participate effectively.
In conclusion, the GAC would
welcome further discussion with the DNSO and Names Council members in
order to clarify the arguments on both parts. However, the GAC disagrees
with some of the arguments and conclusions in the Names Council Resolution
of 11 October 2001. GAC members will be glad to participate in the Action
Plan recently announced by ICANN in this respect.
Dr Paul Twomey
26 October 2001
of the Member States of the WIPO, September 24 to October 3 2001. Decision
on the Report of the Second WIPO Internet Domain Name process.
Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical
of inter-governmental organisations (IGO), Geographical Names, International
Non-Proprietary Names of pharmaceuticals (INNs) and Personal names.
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by ICANN and in official languages and in English.
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