Companies join associations representing trademark interests.
Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse, an organization of mostly Fortune 500 companies, announced today that it has two new members and is concerned about changes at ICANN.
Nike (NYSE: NKE) and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) have joined the organization. These companies are no strangers to the domain and trademark world. Both companies have filed dozens of UDRPs dating back to 2000. Nike’s most recent victory at National Arbitration Forum was NikeSwim.net; Wells Fargo’s recent victories were for clear cybersquatting cases including WellsFargoBusinessSolutions.com and BankOwnedWellsFargo.com.
The company’s concerns with ICANN revolve around the structure of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO). According to a CADNA press release:
In a 13 to zero vote, ICANN’s board unanimously approved a change to the structure of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), a significant policy making component of the organization. As a result of the vote, the GNSO will be transitioned into a bicameral entity. The new structure, which has many components that could be both positive and negative for brand owners and Internet users, will divide the GNSO into “contracted party” and “non-contracted party” houses. The contracted party house will be composed of representatives from registrars, registries and a member of the nominating committee. These parties have generally aligned interests, and will be able to form a cohesive 50 percent voting block with little debate. The non-contracted party house will be composed of commercial and non-commercial stakeholders who represent ISPs, and the general business and intellectual property communities. These parties’ interests are significantly more diverse, and will make consensus within the 50 percent voting block less likely.
While heralded as a vast improvement, this change to the GNSO structure is concerning to many because it is perceived as another step by ICANN that will further advance the interests of domain industry insiders to the detriment of Internet policies that could benefit the rest of us. It is of particular concern since contracted parties now possess 50 percent of the voting power, while commercial interests are left with just 23 percent of the vote. This break down of representation will materially diminish the voice of brands, and by proxy, consumers, from the decisions that determine the future of Internet policy and governance.