WIPO urges tradename protection for new domains

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is suggesting some safeguards to stop cybersquatters from grabbing trademark-protected names under new generic Internet domain names.

WIPO is recommending a “uniform intellectual property (IP) protection mechanism” to prevent illegal domain name registrations in any new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs), the organization said earlier this week in a statement.

Its report, “New Generic Top Level Domains: Intellectual Property Considerations,” was commissioned by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization responsible for overseeing the domain name system (DNS).

“Given the value of trademarks and other identifiers and the importance of the Internet as a commercial communication and marketing channel, rights owners are understandably worried that their identifiers fall victim to deceptive and abusive practices on the Internet,” the report states. “Undermining the status of such identifiers also compromises the credibility of the DNS and consumers’ trust in the Internet as a medium for commercial exchange.”

Main generic TLDs end with suffixes such as .com, .edu, .gov, .net and .org. But several new ones are on the way, including .eu, .jobs, .travel and .xxx.

Last year, WIPO saw the number of cybersquatting cases filed rise to 1,110 from 1,053 the year before. Most disputes involved the .com domain.

WIPO contends that IP rights holders must be given the opportunity to register their protected identifiers under the new generic TLDs before registration is open to the general public.

A uniform mechanism would have a number of advantages, according to the WIPO report. For instance, operators of new generic TLDs would not be required to develop their own IP protection mechanisms, a task for which they are not necessarily equipped; ICANN would not be required to monitor the correct implementation of multiple protection mechanisms applied by different gTLDs, concentrating its attention instead on one single mechanism; IP owners would not be required to devote significant resources to understanding and using multiple different IP protection mechanisms; and the general public would benefit from enhanced reliability and credibility of domains.

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