Comments on Final IRT Report
Dear Sirs, Please find here below the views of Unilever on the IRT report which we hope will be of assistance in reviewing the issue of trade mark protection. Although we support any measures to ensure that trade mark rights are protected we sincerely wonder whether the proposal of an IP clearinghouse is the best way forward. By this system the burden is again put on trade mark holders who should not need to defend their rights again as they already invested in these by registering their trade marks (throughout the world). Considerable time and recourses will need to be invested to protect the rights via this system and although the report states that the costs should be reasonable to submit the trade mark rights into the IP clearinghouse this will likely not be the case for trade mark owners with many brands, like Unilever. In this regard we are not only thinking about the application fee for submitting these rights but also in the time that needs to be invested in collecting all the data and submitting it. If the IP Clearinghouse is the way forward, we at least suggest that any costs of abuse prevention will be born by the applicant who applies for a new gTLD and should be included within the application fees for the new gTLD's. We prefer however that the whole idea of an IP Clearinghouse will be set aside and that the burden of proof will switch from the IP holder to the applicant applying for a new gTLD. Why would it be unreasonable to ask for the applicant to prove that he has sufficient rights into a domain name? This will prevent any abuse. The report also states that the data of the IP Clearinghouse will be evaluated each year. A period of only one year seems to be very short and will again result in increasing costs. Therefore we suggest that this period will be longer, for example 3 years. The threshold for Globally Protected Marks (GPM) list as proposed in the report seems to be very high and is not completely clear. We suggest that further studies will be conducted into this, the same applies for the requirement of having registrations in all five ICANN regions. We also wonder what exactly is protected by the GPM. The report states that marks on GPM could block identical domain names however will this mean that an application for . UNILEVER will be blocked but . UNILEVERCOMPANY or . UNNILEVER not? What is the use then of having your mark on the GPM list? As you can see we are not convinced that an IP Clearinghouse as now proposed by the IRT team is the best way to protect our IP rights and hope that other measures will be taken. Best regards, Charlotte Schuddebeurs For Unilever IMPORTANT: The contents of this email are intended for the named addressee only. It contains information which may be confidential and which may also be privileged. Unless you are the named addressee (or authorised to receive for the addressee) you may not copy or use it, or disclose it to anyone else. If you received it in error please notify us immediately and then destroy it.