Dear Sirs We refer to GNSO's vote regarding the future of the domain name and WHOIS system and urge you to adopt Motion 2, that ICANN conduct an objective and comprehensive study on the legitimate abuses and uses of Whois data - before making policy changes that may permanently alter the structure of the domain name and Whois system, for the following reasons. The information available through the WHOIS system regarding the ownership of domain names is an invaluable tool in assisting us in the provision of services to our clients, including commercial due diligence and the protection of intellectual property rights. When advising a client on the acquisition of a business, it is now standard practise to conduct searches to check the ownership of related domain names using WHOIS. This allows us to confirm whether the domain names that a business claims to own are actually registered in its name. This is often not the case, generally as a result of administrative oversight. The WHOIS system also allows us to establish whether any related domain names have been registered by third parties. Information provided by WHOIS helps us to establish whether domain names have been registered by legitimate businesses, or people intending to use the known name or trade mark of a legitimate business as a means to conduct unlawful activity, whether through infringement of intellectual property rights or other fraudulent purposes. As is widely known, the legitimate interests of businesses are often threatened, and their intellectual property rights infringed, by so-called cybersquatters seeking to profit from the names or trade marks of others, or worse using these names or trade marks to cause consumer confusion and/or other damage to the legitimate owner of the name or trade mark. The WHOIS system assists us to establish the identity of such persons and to take appropriate measures to protect our clients' interests and indeed the interests of consumers. If this information were not freely available via the WHOIS system it would be a very difficult, time consuming, expensive task, to identify such persons, as those who use the Internet and domain names for unlawful purposes are unlikely to provide details regarding their identities elsewhere. There are also a number of persons who piggyback on the identity of established businesses by registering similar domain names and operating businesses from the connected websites, taking unfair advantage of the goodwill and brand strength established by another. This can include the sale of grey imports, infringing the manufacturer's patents and/or trade marks. The identity of such persons is often concealed behind PO Box numbers or companies registered in countries that do not provide public access to their details. The information available via WHOIS helps us again to identify such persons, obtain contact details, and take steps to protect our clients' rights. Internet websites are also often used to reproduce copyright material without the owners consent. Once again, the information available from the WHOIS system regarding domain name ownership allows us to discover the contact details for such persons, to inform them of the copyright owner's rights, and to ensure that such material is removed. The WHOIS system also helps to provide a additional layer of comfort for consumers. It can often be difficult to establish, by simply looking at a website, whether a business is legitimate or not. The ability to check the identity of the domain name registrant via the WHOIS system allows consumers to cross-refer that information to any contact details provided on the website. This helps them to make a more accurate assessment as to whether a business can be trusted or not, and allows them to contact the registrant if something goes wrong. We appreciate that there are important issues to be considered regarding the privacy of individuals who operate websites. However, given the considerable value of the information provided by the WHOIS system, to legal practitioners and businesses who wish to protect their legal rights, a thorough investigation should be carried out into the uses and abuses of WHOIS before any changes are made. Therefore we respectfully request the GNSO to reject Motions 1 and 3, and approve Motion 2, in the forthcoming vote. Yours faithfully Mary Bagnall Partner - Intellectual Property and IT Group Mayer Brown International LLP 11 Pilgrim Street London UK Direct Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7782 8843 Direct Fax: + 44 (0) 20 7782 8155 E-mail: mbagnall@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx www.mayerbrown.com _____________________________________________________________________________ With effect from 1 September 2007, we have changed our name to Mayer Brown International LLP. 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