Comments on the STI Report
- To: sti-report-2009@xxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Comments on the STI Report
- From: Allan Wilson <allanwilson123@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 26 Jan 2010 23:01:41 +0000
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this very important matter.
I am worried that by establishing a Clearinghouse and the Uniform Rapid
Suspension procedure, you will only be giving further ammunition to large
and multi-national corporations to make frivolous attacks against honest and
hard working small business owners who own generic domains and other domains
which are used in a fair manner. Just because a term has a trademark doesn't
mean that it can't be used in manner which is fair, such as promoting a
different class of goods or services. After all, is that not why we have
different trademark classes?
I have particular concern with point 6.2, detailing the Number of Examiners
of a case for the proposed URS. Having multiple examiners will reduce the
chances of them as a whole having a undeclared conflict of interest.
As a small business owner who is working hard to stay afloat as a result of
the current economic crises and recession, I don't have the funds to pay for
a whole legal department to compose my response. As such I would like to
take this opportunity to say that I agree and support the comments made by
Mr George Kirikos, a copy of which are enclosed below.
While the latest report of the STI is a step in the right direction, it
continues to go beyond the common-denominator international law and
in favour of those making complaints. While my company has no intention to
register domain names in new gTLDs, it seems that the intent amongst the
TM-mafia/cabal is to at some later date apply these same rules to existing
gTLDs. Thus, while we don't care about new gTLDs whatsoever, we must comment
order that bad rules aren't implemented that later put at risk legitimate
registrants in existing gTLDs.
Most TM attorneys share our grave concerns that new gTLDs are a bad idea,
ICANN should not be trying to "divide and conquer" by playing interests off
against one another in order to further their own ambitions which the public
against. We stand united with most in the TM community opposing new gTLDs.
First off, I'd like to applaud some of the TM lobby for being balanced in
proposals. There are some "good guys" in that group that looked at our past
critiques, listened to our concerns, and made appropriate adjustments. They
to be commended. Just as there are "good guys" in the domain registrant
community, there are also "good guys" representing the IP interests of
brandholders who do not overreach and don't engage in reverse domain name
However, just as there are cybersquatters, there are also a group in the IP
community who would not hesitate to bring forth frivolous claims in order to
harass existing registrants and reverse hijack their rightfully owned domain
names in order to gain an economic advantage. Both of these "extremists" in
registrant and IP groups need to be reigned in by the rules.
In addition to our previously-submitted comments (linked to from above),
are some points we'd like to reiterate:
1. There is no need for a Trademark Clearinghouse that is sanctioned by
It can clearly be funded and created entirely by the private sector, and
not need to be "sanctioned" or funded in any way by ICANN. In our opinion
will be a great waste of money, and should only be funded by those who are
foolish enough to waste their own money (namely TM holders and registry
operators) on it. Public money should in no way subsidize it or give it a
monopoly position (i.e. there could be multiple competing TM databases).
Frankly, it becomes a protection racket that justifies new gTLD operators in
having sunrise periods that tax TM holders with registering (and even
for via auctions) unwanted defensive registrations. The TM Clearinghouse
override the courts, wherein TMs are routinely challenged and overturned.
"Validation" at the clearinghouse would be gamed by those holding the
marks (e.g. trademark trolls), often for the sole
purpose of asserting claims on generic descriptive domain names that they
would otherwise not be entitled to. The TM Clearinghouse also simply adds a
layer of bureaucracy to the ICANN ecosystem, another set of contractors and
consultants who will ultimately tax the public through higher fees, and
2. We find it humourous that no accreditation agreement/contract exists for
UDRP providers at present, yet 3.1 recommends exactly that for the TM
clearinghouse. First things first --- get the UDRP providers like WIPO and
under contract in order to ensure accountability.
3. Of course figurative marks should be excluded from the database. Some
commenters want them included, which is ridiculous. The STI got that right,
4. The TM Clearinghouse data should be in the public domain (i.e. there
be bulk access for the public to download it for free, just as they can for
.com zone file), and be available for free to successor TM clearinghouse
operators (i.e. no perpetual monopolies). Fees are for things like
not for access to a new for-profit monopoly "service" who will try to tax
and the public over time. The most efficient operator(s) would earn "normal"
profits via a regular tender process or procurement process, not excess
through perpetual monopolies and a stranglehold over data they deem
"proprietary." An open XML schema and open bulk access process should be
created to ensure the public is not held hostage in the future.
5. We do not support mandatory pre-launch use of the TM clearinghouse.
every dictionary word, acronym, etc. has some registered TM in some obscure
class of goods and services. That does *not* give it exclusivity or a
right-of-first refusal over *all* uses worldwide. A registered TM for
in Albania should have no weight in blocking "example.newtld" for a good
registrant in the USA or Canada, or even for a registrant in Albania in a
different class of goods and services. We've already seen frivolous
TMs in the .eu launch, and they were not all from Benelux (i.e. there are a
of frivolous marks in the US, Canada and elsewhere).
6. In a real sense, ICANN needs to make up its mind whether they want an
expansion of the namespace (in which case new registrants are presumed
until proven guilty), or simply wants defensive registrations that duplicate
existing gTLDs. It's clear registry operators do not care, as long as
pays the bill for a domain name (i.e. the cybersquatter, the defensive TM
registrant, and the good faith registrant are all equal before their eyes).
There's a hypocrisy to the sunrise periods that undermines everything ICANN
other new gTLD advocates say, and that hypocrisy is evident to the broader
public who does not seek new gTLDs.
7. As per our comments above, 6.1 needs to be modified from "on commercially
reasonable terms" to free. The TC operator should have no monopoly
on the data -- they are simply a contractor for a fixed period, and the data
belongs to the public domain.
8. We do not support linkage between the TC and the URS (in 6.2), unless the
domain registrant is in the same country/jurisdiction as that of the TM.
9. We oppose the URS in principle, as it will be abused and used to harass
legitimate registrants. The better policy would be, as we have suggested
multiple times, to have WHOIS verification. This thwarts cybersquatters, who
want to hide in the shadows, from registering abusive domain names and thus
reduces overall cybersquatting. Many external TM lawyers make money from
complaints, and do you notice they do not push strongly for WHOIS accuracy
(which would reduce complaints significantly). But, TM lawyers within
corporations should be in favour of this, as it would reduce their policing
costs if there are fewer domains being abused. Verified WHOIS acts as a
deterrent to abuse.
The URS, on the other hand, tackles the problem after it's too late. Of
ICANN, registries and registrars benefit financially from these abusive
registrations through the associated fees, and have no interest in
and preventing abusive registrations through WHOIS verification (which would
very low cost, as we have discussed in previous submissions). They'd prefer
collect the money up front, and impose the costs of the abuse on the wider
public, laughing all the way to the bank.
I believe the DOC or GAC should step in and mandate Verified WHOIS via a PIN
system (i.e. physical letter with a PIN code mailed to registrants to ensure
address accuracy before a domain name gets activated). This would please TM
holders, consumers, and legitimate domain registrants who always maintain
10. The "Safe Harbors" in the URS should include the words "without
limitation", to ensure that they can grow over time. The policy is flawed
because URS providers have a financial incentive to expand the definition of
"abuse" over time, but registrants should have that same power to check that
growth through their own examples of good faith usage.
11. In order to ensure that there is no forum shopping, the URS provider
be selected by the *registrant* (or alternatively the registrar), not by the
complainant. If one studies the history of the UDRP, this was a very early
proposal that in hindsight made a lot of sense, given the problems we've
with WIPO, NAF and CAC engaged in a "race to the bottom" to appeal to TM
holders. By shifting the balance so that it is the *registrant* who selects
which URS provider handles a case, the playing field is made more level. If
registrant does not select a provider, a case would be randomized between
multiple providers and panels.
12. There should be notice made to attorneys of the domain registrants,
legal contact data would appear in the public WHOIS on an opt-in basis. This
would increase the odds of *actual notice* of complaints, as the attorney
receive notice when a registrant is on holiday, and act accordingly.
13. Domain locking/freezing should be done by the *registrar*, NOT the
operator. This would allow the registrar to also contact their client, to
improve the odds of actual notice.
14. 20 days is insufficient notice, especially for domains that have been
registered for long periods. The notice period should be a formula based on
age (from creation date) of the domain name. For a 10-year old domain name,
example, where there is no "emergency" requiring the URS and the TM holder
slept on their rights, the notice period might be 6 months, for example. For
freshly registered 2 month old domain name, 20 days might be considered
adequate. Alternatively, the URS should not apply at all to domains older
a certain age, for example a cut-off of 2 years past the creation date. In
real world, if I had a "McDonald's" sign over my door for 10 years, and
McDonald's tried to get an emergency injunction (which is kind of what the
is like) to have it torn down, the judge would deny it, and instead set the
matter for normal trial. McDonald's would have faced the issue of laches,
having slept on their rights. By using a
formula like that suggested above, it encourages complaints to be brought
promptly, and that they are not used as a tool to harass long-term good
registrants. In the real world there are statutes of limitations on bringing
actions, and this change would be in line with the real world precedent.
Indeed, not having a limitation period would create the absurdity that a
URS/UDRP provider could find in favour of a complaint that would be
*statute-barred* from the court system!
15. URS providers and panelists, as in the UDRP, should not be excluded from
liability in real courts if there is deliberate wrongdoing.
16. The domain name should not be transferred to the complainant after a
successful complaint unless the registrant has ample time (say 6 months) to
launch an appeal in court.
17. Any complainant losing a URS should be precluded from getting a second
"kick at the can" via UDRP for a period of 2 years for the same domain name.
They can instead use the court system if they lose.
18. Point 8.2 is very wrong, namely an appeal by the registrant in real
to overturn the URS should immediately restore the nameservers to those
specified by the complainant. Real court trumps URS. That appeal should be
permitted at any time, including during the time before a URS response is
required. The registry and registrar need to obey the court in restoring the
nameservers, otherwise innocent registrants would have income-generating
websites disrupted by bad decisions from URS providers.
19. The penalties for abuse by TM holders are trivial. They need to be made
substantially stronger. In Canada, there are financial penalties under the
(.ca version of UDRP) which provides for a bad faith complainant paying up
$5000 (as ordered by a panel):
to respondent to cover the costs of the registrant. That represents a fair
balanced policy, and reduces frivolous complaints. Alternatively,
should post a security bond.
20. All URS decisions need to be made public, just as in the UDRP, in order
ensure that the public can scrutinize whether panelists and URS providers
following the rules. They should be available via a XML interface, in
to plain text/HTML as they are now, so that researchers can have bulk access
the XML for scholarly and academic studies (as we've also suggested for the
21. Registrants should be able to white-list themselves to opt-out of the
(and UDRP) through mechanisms such as WHOIS verification, or posting of
security bonds with their registrars. The "good guys" want to stand out from
the bad guys, however ICANN and the TM mafia wants to treat all registrants
though they are all cybersquatters.
22. The Business Constituency has been captured by the TM lobby, and no
represents true businesses (that's one of the reasons we've left it, as well
their new totalitarian charter). Their "minority report" should be
and not interpreted as representing the views of legitimate business
23. In Appendix 6, the points in 1.2 (page 44) are described as
"non-exhaustive". This is flawed, just as in the UDRP, and encourages URS
providers and panelists to have an ever-expanding definition of "bad faith"
order to promote themselves and or their provider amongst complainants. It's
the reason we see some ridiculous decisions coming from UDRP providers who
to stretch and change and literally break the rules in order to encourage
complaints, thereby bringing them more money. This needs to stop. The way to
this is to define clear what the *actual* clear-cut circumstances are, and
them exhaustive and unchanging (unless changed via PDP). Panel members have
made themselves into rule-makers, instead of being those who *apply* the
and this is simply wrong. As we mentioned above, the "Safe Harbors" must
balance 1.2, and should be non-exhaustive. Only the clearest-cut obvious
should win a URS or UDRP, not a 51% to 49%
"probability" based model. Most of us in good faith can view the list of
upcoming UDRP cases and *know* which ones are slam dunks, and are
It's these ones that should be "assembly line" cases. But, there are many
others, generic dictionary words, acronymns, abbreviations, etc. where
panelists have taken it upon themselves to make up new law as they go along,
please Complainants and encourage additional complaints.
24. There are huge conflicts of interests in allowing panelists to also
represent complainants/respondents. Panelists should be precluded to ever
represent others (i.e. in other domain disputes). You can see more on this
the comments to the article at:
In particular, there was a US Supreme Court decision this year, Caperton v.
Massey, where the court created a new standard requiring requiring judges to
recuse themselves if there is a âprobability of biasâ. See:
I believe this principle might be useful to disqualify some UDRP panelists.
25. Panelists need to be reminded that "evidence" is not the same as "proof"
--- some don't seem to get it, and simply "check the boxes" on evidence
weighing it! (see the comments in the DomainNameWire article for more on
In conclusion, the bad policy decision of going forward with new gTLDs
the wishes of the public cannot be fixed by implementing bad policies such
the IRT or its step-child the STI. ICANN needs to recognize that the proper
course is to maintain the stability that we have today, and only add
new gTLDs if their benefits exceed their costs. It's laughable to watch the
posturing of those trying to "sell" new gTLDs as desirable, and those who
change their principles on a dime because they see potential short-term
ICANN should be in the business of refining *long-term* principles that are
broadly supported by the public, not playing constituencies and groups
each other in order to further their own self-interest in becoming a $200
million/year organization that taxes internet users to fund world travel,
African safaris, and extravagant parties.
Furthermore, the STI would be considered "policy". Under the Affirmation of
"To ensure that its decisions are in the public interest, and not just the
interests of a particular set of stakeholders, ICANN commits to perform and
publish analyses of the positive and negative effects of its decisions on
public, including any financial impact on the public, and the positive or
negative impact (if any) on the systemic security, stability and resiliency
Where is the list of "negative effects" published by ICANN or the GSNO, and
economic valuation of the financial size of the positive vs. the negative
effects to determine whether the benefits exceed the costs of the STI/IRT?
We've basically had a process where a bunch of lawyers got together, without
any economists at the table to perform financial analysis or provide a
check on what they are talking about. This is a pure violation of the AOC,
lack of attention paid to the requirements to serve the public interest
to analyze the positive and negative financial impacts. On that basis alone,
the STI should be rejected as "not finished" and should be sent back for
consideration using the expertise of those who are not lawyers.
George Kirikos http://www.leap.com/