ICA Response to APCPA

I am in Florida for an extended weekend and a meeting, but I wanted to post a couple of links for you to see while I am away.
From DNJournal:

There are parties searching for a way to change laws so they can more easily take domain assets they have no right to away from their current owners. The easiest way to do that is to get language favoring their agenda slipped into an otherwise well-intentioned bill like this that would normally sail through the legislative process with little scrutiny. The dangerous language gets inserted in such a bill through lobbying efforts by people who want to remove current barriers that keep them from grabbing domains they are not entitled to. Combating this sort of legislative sleight of hand is exactly why the Internet Commerce Association was formed and why we think it is critical for domain owners to support the organization. Your very livelihood could be at stake in the legal battles over your assets that are just now getting underway.

Also, Mike Berkens posted the ICA response to the proposed Anti-Phishing Consumer Protection Act of 2008. As stated above, the language in the Act could pose a very serious and very real threat to the health of the domain industry. I am not one for blowing smoke or taking political action, but this is something we should all take seriously.
Whether you have great generic domain names or average domain names it doesn’t matter. If super generic domain names become a target – as many people believe will happen if this bill is passed as is – the value of all domain names will drop significantly due to the risk of owning them. The problem I see is that this language is lumped into a consumer and election-friendly bill that will surely be passed. Who doesn’t want to stop phishing? HOWEVER, we need to make sure this bill is changed before it is passed. We need to protect our assets. If some of the big chips fall, you better believe this will impact your business (assuming you own domain names).
I am a Professional Member of the ICA and I will continue to give what I can. I am still selling my two Australian beach domain names with the $5,000 margin going entirely to the ICA from the buyer (who can get a deduction for it). No matter whether you can contribute $100 or $25,000, you need to join the ICA and help protect your domain ownership rights.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn
  1. Elliot, this are very interesting times. How would this law be enforced (it’s a USA law, right?) if the domains were registered with a non-USA registrar and hosting with a non-USA hosting company? Can you the USA make the EU or the Caribbean countries comply with their laws – I don’t think so ??

  2. In reply to Bahamas Hosting, the location of the host and registrar make no difference whatsoever. The .com and .net registries are operated in the United States (in Virginia) by Verisign, so any .com or .net domain name, regardless of who the registrar is, could be taken away and awarded to someone else.

  3. Ron, are we talking about only typo and trademark domains or generic domains that are developed into active sites?
    For example, if I owned travelers.com, hosted it in Bahamas and registered it with a Bahamas ICANN registrar (Bahamas is not a state of the USA for those you don’t travel much — haha) And my site was active and advertising my local business called Travelers Plumbing, am I at risk?
    Under these proposed laws, do you think Travelers Insurance from the USA can demand that Verisign take the domain away from me?

  4. I think the problem is that the language is very vague. It says something to the effect of a business or government office can take a domain name that uses its brand. While the main intent is probably to prevent someone from owning a name like federaltradecommission.com and pretending to be the FTC, the vagueness of the language could possible be interpreted that a city could demand (and sue for) a city .com or a company that makes widgets could say that they have the right to own widget.com. I believe this bill would allow a company/government to complain and then sue the owner for millions of dollars worth of damages. While the Lanham Act (trademarks) is up to $100,000 in damages, the scope of this is FAR greater and the potential damages can be FAR greater.

  5. It would be great if you would publish some phone numbers/emails of some of the people involved in pushing this bill so that we can let them know directly how we feel in addition to what ICA is doing.

  6. I think Elliot’s summary is on the button. Just because you are right and running an honest business doesn’t mean someone with deep pockets couldn’t sue you – and this bill would put a major weapon in their arsenal. The ICA is currently working on sample letters you can use to send your Congressman Antony. Keep an eye on their site, InternetCommerce.org for updates on the situation.

  7. Under these proposed laws, do you think Travelers Insurance from the USA can demand that Verisign take the domain away from me?

    As Ron J commented, the .com Registry is in Virginia. VeriSign is obligated to obey court orders or possibly face stiff penalties.
    Incidentally, that’s what Dell Computer did in their trademark infringement suit against 3 offshore registrars. As long as the .com Registry is within a jurisdiction having any applicable law, what you’ve asked here 2x can happen.
    Whether it will happen or not, only time will tell.


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