Welcome back to DomainSkate’s weekly news roundup!  This week’s roundup has two themes.  We hinted at them last week and both have gained traction: the experience of internet outside the US, and questions of monopoly, trust and creative freedom versus intellectual property.

Let’s take the second one first.  What if you had been clever enough to figure out how to allow people to register limited-access domains with non-traditional TLDs like .blog or .sucks by operating a different root?  (If you don’t remember what a root is, you can refer back to the explanation in our name space collision article here.)

You might be quite upset that ICANN is not only controlling the new gTLD market, but doing it in such a way that you’re excluded from the game—with sky-high price points and your application not even accepted.

This is exactly what happened with name.space, who is now fighting for their rights in a suit that asks big questions about what it means to be a monopoly power, and how to avoid that while maintaining order on the internet.

ICANN Not Immune To Antitrust Suits, 9th Circ. Hears
Law360
By Emily Atkin, September 10, 2013

Is ICANN a monopoly? Did they have monopoly power “thrust upon them”? Are they maintaining it in unfair ways?

Here are more questions about control over an industry:

Wine Trade Groups Want .Wine, .Vin Domains Crushed
Bloomberg BNA
By Thomas O’Toole, September 11, 2013

The conversation happening around .wine and .vin seems to conflate numerous concerns and questions, and the wine industry professionals whose response is simply to shut down the new TLDs seems ill-informed to me.  They’re concerned about regional trade names being mis-used—but don’t seem interested in collectively registering their own TLD like .Napa.  They appear to worry about their individual names being used—but could register their trademarks with the Trademark Clearing House for a pittance. (On this very website in fact.)  For equally negligible numbers they could register the various versions of their trademarks within the new domains as soon as they become available.

Granted, operating a registry for an entire TLD is a challenging (and not cheap) deal, so it would be understandable hold off on going for .Napa and to lobby for whoever operates .wine and .vin to apply certain reasonable standards so that consumers can trust the domains they see with that TLD.  But what doesn’t seem reasonable is to make it overly challenging for newcomers to start businesses in the wine industry, or to be obsessed with the possibility of counterfeiting to the point of shutting down an entire TLD. (I’ve never heard of a counterfeit wine before.)

What do you think is the solution?

Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the internet and Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist, proposes something like a cyber fire department:

Policy, not tech, threatens the Internet’s progress, Cerf warns
Computerworld UK
By Matthew Finnegan, Septempber 8, 2013

“There is a great deal of tension about who is in charge of the Internet, who should have control over how it evolves and how it is used.” He added, “We are still struggling to understand what sorts of rules should be applicable for the use of the Internet, and what rules there should be for its implementation and deployment.”

This was at a conference in London.  Elsewhere around the world, Finnish entrepreneurs are changing the internet for China…

Finnish Prime Minister and TLD Registry Chairman announce successful contracting with ICANN for Dot Chinese Online & Dot Chinese Website TLDs
Press Release, September 10, 2013

…a UDRP on a Brazilian website brings up interesting questions of trademark usage and free speech in gripe sites (while nicely summarizing past decisions)…

Trademark Loses UDRP On Direct Match Domain Bongrille.com Used As A “Sucks” Site
TheDomains.com
By Michael Berkens, September 11, 2013

…sister companies separated by war now fight over rights to a new TLD…

Merck KGaA sues Merk & Co. over .merck top level domain name
DomainNameWire.com
By Andrew Allemann, September 9, 2013

…Amazon.com rolls their eyes and rolls up their sleeves to argue that if these Chinese characters don’t look like the English .SHOP then neither should those Chinese characters…

Amazon.com appeals silly IDN string confusion objection
DomainNameWire.com
By Andrew Allemann, September 9, 2013

…and ICANN is going international, not just in their location…

Is ICANN Looking To Move From US Jurisdiction to Switzerland?
TheDomains.com
By Michael Berkens, September 6, 2013

…but also by implementing a greater focus on the great continent of Africa.

ICANN looking to leverage African engagement
HumanIPO
By Nanine Steenkamp, September 9, 2013

That’s all folks!  See you next week...