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INTA IDN Response

  • To: <idn-guidelines@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: INTA IDN Response
  • From: "Michael Heltzer" <mheltzer@xxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 18 Oct 2005 11:22:50 -0400

A.        INTA Is the World's Leading Voice on Trademark Law


The International Trademark Association ("INTA") is a 127 year-old global 
organization with members in over 180 countries. One of INTA's key goals is the 
promotion and protection of trademarks as a primary means for consumers to make 
informed choices regarding the products and services they purchase.


For the last eleven years, INTA has also been the leading voice of trademark 
owners within the Internet community, serving as a founding member of the 
Intellectual Property Constituency of the Internet Corporation for Assigned 
Names and Numbers ("ICANN").


B.        Purpose of these Submissions


ICANN has opened a 30-day public comment period on the revised version of the 
Guidelines for the Implementation of Internationalized Domain Names ("IDN 
Guidelines"). INTA is filing these submissions in response to ICANN's request 
for feedback. 


C.        Summary 


The IDN Guidelines deal with the implementation of Internationalized Domain 
Names ("IDNs"). The IDN Guidelines do not mention, let alone deal with, any 
Whois issues that will arise from the implemenation of IDNs.


INTA respectfully submits that the draft IDN Guidelines must deal with the 
creation, maintenance and publication of Whois data, and that a further draft 
dealing with Whois issues should be prepared and resubmitted for public comment.


D.        Implementation of IDNs 


The central goal of the proposed IDN Guidelines is to enable end users to view 
IDNs, without altering the DNS protocols.  


The IDN Guidelines seek to protect the security of the Internet by preventing 
users who enter a single IDN from being connected to different servers based on 
different interpretations of that domain name.  See RFC 3490 at § 10.0.


As ICANN is aware, the increased availability of characters created by IDNs 
presents additional opportunities for homograph domain name spoofing and URI 
spoofing.  See "ICANN Statement on IDN Homograph Attacks and Request for Public 
Comment," dated February 23, 2005.  

Although the IDN Guidelines will curtail the opportunity for abusive 
registration of IDNs, abuses will occur.  When that happens, trademark owners 
and others must be able to determine who is responsible in order to seek 
redress and prevent further infringement and public deception. The 
establishment of Whois guidelines therefore goes hand in hand with, and should 
be a part of, the IDN Guidelines. 


E.  History of the Whois Database


The Whois database refers to the publicly available online system that provides 
access to ownership and contact information regarding domain name registrations.


Under Section 3.3 of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement of ICANN registrars 
in the familiar .com, .net, .org, and other generic top level domains 
("gtld's") must provide a free, publicly accessible online database of domain 
name registrant information, providing at least the following:


*           the registered domain name;

*           the registrant's name and postal address;

*           the administrative contact's and the technical contact's names, 
postal addresses, email addresses, telephone numbers and (if available) fax 

*           original registration date and expiration date;

*           the registrar's name; and

*           the names of the primary and secondary nameservers.


The public availability of domain name ownership information is consistent with 
how the Whois database has always been operated from the very early days of the 
Internet.  Indeed, both RFC 812 (March 1, 1982) and its replacement, RFC 954 
(October 1985), refer to the Whois database as "a netwide directory service for 
Internet [ARPANET] users."


With the growth of the use of the Internet, and in particular commercial use of 
the World Wide Web, the Whois database has become an important source of 
information for contacting the person or persons responsible for administering 
domain names (including domain name holders) for public policy purposes. For 
instance, the Whois database is widely used as an identification tool in (i) 
law enforcement for identifying counterfeiters and combating other fraud, (ii) 
consumer protection by allowing the ready identification of online merchants, 
and (iii) protection of intellectual property rights by helping to identify 


F. Whois Concerns with respect to IDNs


The NRC publication entitled Signposts in Cyberspace:  The Domain Name System 
and Internet Navigation, identified three key Whois issues with respect to 
IDNs, which should be resolved at the same time as IDN implementation issues 
are being considered. These Whois issues are as follows: 


1.      What characters should be acceptable in a Whois query? The choices 
include not only Unicode, but also IDNA puny code and local characters, or some 
combination of them.


2.      What language should be acceptable in a response, and how should it be 
encoded? The choices of language include the language of the nation in which 
the registrar or the registrant is located, or any "international language" 
(such as English, Chinese, French Spanish, Russian, Arabic, etc.) or one 
designated language (such as English). If the language is other than English, 
coding issues will arise.


3.      Since IDN practices for complex languages create packages of reserved 
names (containing variant characters), how much information should Whois 
provide about other names in the package in response to a query about one of 
them? Apparently, examples have been shown of some Chinese labels that could 
generate hundreds of variants.


National Research Council of the National Academies, National Academies Press 
(2005, prepublication issue, Section 5.7.2 (titled "Whois and Internationalized 
Domain Names"), p. 5-62 et seq.


G. Conclusion


INTA respectfully submits that ICANN should prepare a further draft of the 
proposed IDN Guidelines, dealing with the Whois issues identifed above, and any 
other Whois issues of concern, and then publish the revised draft for public 


INTA appreciates the opportunity to make these submissions in response to 
ICANN's request for feedback regarding the proposed IDN Guidelines. INTA would 
also appreciate the opportunity to be involved in drafting the revised IDN 
Guidelines with respect to the Whois issues identified above, or in consulting 
with ICANN with respect to those issues.


Michael E. Heltzer

External Relations Manager

International Trademark Association


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