ICANN sent out a news alert yesterday calling for volunteers to participate on a new working group that will be created to “Review all Rights Protections Mechanisms in all generic top-level domains.” Among other things, this working group will be tasked with potentially overhauling the UDRP and URS procedures. This could have major ramifications for domain investors and domain name portfolio operators.
A week ago, Phil Corwin from the Internet Commerce Association wrote an article on CircleID about the importance of this working group and the impact its findings and recommendations may have on domain owners and domain investors. Phil also published an informative blog post about the working group on the ICA’s website. You should read both of these articles to get a better idea of why members of the domain investment community should consider participating on this working group.
Phil also commented to me about the importance in having solid representation among domain investors within this working group:
“These reviews, first of the new gTLD RPMs, followed by the first-ever review of the UDRP, may result in important changes to the treatment of domains within trademark law and ICANN rights protection processes. And those changes, once made, will probably last for at least a decade or two without further alteration. So anyone with an interest in registrant rights and domain valuations has a stake in their outcome.”
Nat Cohen, a board member at the ICA and the founder of Telepathy, Inc. a company that has had to repeatedly defend its descriptive domain name assets in UDRP proceedings, also shared some thoughts with me:
“The UDRP system is badly broken. It is designed for trademark interests, implemented largely by trademark interests for the benefit of trademark interests. Panelists act without accountability and some trample on the policy with impunity. The use of the UDRP to legitimize the theft of domains such as camilla.com, fattuesday.com, nicecar.com, ovation.com, canary.com, vanity.com and many others has provoked outrage from domain investors wondering what could be done to protect our investments from an unfair process that is built into every gTLD domain registration. To quote the lyrics from “Hamilton“-
‘When you got skin in the game, you stay in the game
But you don’t get a win unless you play in the game
…Oh, I’ve got to be in
The room where it happens…’
This is our once in a generation chance to be in the room where the rules that govern our livelihood will be made. Our active involvement will give us the best chance for a good outcome, otherwise we can cry and moan about the results for decades to come.”
People in the domain investment space are encouraged to sign up to participate since trademark interests and other groups will likely have participation in full force. People who volunteer to become a member of the working group should expect to spend approximately one hour per week on the group calls. The group will likely be convened for over a year. For those who wish to take a more passive role, it is possible to sign up for the email list and not be active on the working group.
I do not know how large this group will be, but I plan to sign up for the working group. I encourage others in this business to do so as well to ensure that people who invest in domain names are represented. People often complain that the UDRP is unfair to domain investors and strongly favors trademark and other interests. Now is the time to act to ensure our rights as domain owners are not usurped.
Visit the ICANN website to read more about the working group and to sign up to participate.