Here’s the feedback I just submitted to ICANN regarding the IRT Final Report.
The deadline to submit comments to ICANN for the Implementation Response Team’s recommendations, including introducing a new rapid suspension scheme for domain names, is today. To submit a comment, send an email to: email@example.com. You can see current feedback here.
Below is an exact copy of what I submitted to ICANN…
The Implementation Recommendation Team (IRT) has put forth suggestions to combat the problem of cybersquatting and protect intellectual property owners’ rights. As a member of the domain name owner community, the domain name media, and the founder of an intellectual property-based company earlier this decade, I fully support protecting trademark owners’ rights.
Both domain owners and intellectual property owners feel that the existing mechanism for protection – namely, URDP – needs adjustment. IRT, unfortunately, has undertaken a complete re-write of the rules and wipes out what is essentially a good system in need of improvement. I firmly believe that how IRT operated is contrary to established procedures of ICANN, and implore ICANN that IRT’s suggestions not move forward at this time. It is a classic case study in how not to develop and build consensus on an idea.
Instead, ICANN should assemble a cross-functional group of experts from the IP, domain owner, and business disciplines to work on reforming existing trademark protections. This must be done through established ICANN precedent, not the top-down and private approach undertaken by the IRT. The end result must protect both IP owners and domain owners.
We can reform UDRP, both to make it more affordable and faster for rightful complainants as well as protect domain owners against unscrupulous claims. Over the past few months, domain owners have had to spend thousands of dollars responding to complaints for generic domain names such as Ant.com, CheapAutoInsurance.com, SmoothMove.com, and RB.net. Surprisingly, they weren’t all successful in their defense.
There is a solution to balance the needs of IP owners and legitimate domain owners. It should be found through a mutual and appropriate process.
I have a few specific comments on IRT’s proposals regarding URS. These are meant to call attention to just some of the flaws in URS; not to suggest that it is in anyway a workable or fair solution.
-This is a Band-Aid. A domain won through URS will expire and be registered by another person, requiring the trademark owner to re-file. I appreciate that merely suspending the domain will reduce the number of fraudulent claims, but worry that this provision will be changed to give full rights to the domains.
-The costs are too low for any organization, save for an organization backed by complainants, to run as arbitrators. A organization backed by complainants would be biased.
-The response period to a claim is too short, which will result in wrongful suspensions.
-The ‘abusive complaint’ penalties are laughable. In order to significantly reduce the number of frivolous complaints under URS, any complainant who fails a single time should be barred from filing another complaint for at least one year. Furthermore, this should apply broadly to who the complainant is. I foresee a big loophole whereby a company files under alternative complainant names. Finally, sanctions should also apply to an individual lawyer and law firm filing URS cases for its clients. We all know there are lawyers who repeatedly abuse UDRP.
Let’s do this right. Let’s find a solution to protect all legitimate parties. Let’s do it through the appropriate process.