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Will new top-level domains promote cybersquatting?

By Carolyn Duffy Marsan
July 17, 2009 09:51 AM ET

Network World - The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is hosting two meetings this week – one in New York City and the other in London — to discuss the trademark and cybersecurity issues surrounding its plan to introduce hundreds of new top-level domains into the Internet.

Similar meetings will be held in Hong Kong next week and Abu-Dhabi in early August.

At these public meetings, ICANN is discussing the protections that it will give corporations so they don’t have to spend huge sums of money purchasing their company and brand names in all of the new top-level domains.

ICANN plans to introduce hundreds of top-level domains – such as .nyc, .sport and .food – next year.

Wary about this plan, U.S. corporations with large portfolios of domain names have asked ICANN for special protections for trademark owners to prevent cybersquatting and other deceptive practices such as phishing.

Steven Metalitz, president of ICANN's Intellectual Property Constituency and a partner with law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, said the ICANN meeting in New York City focused on preventative measures that ICANN can put in place to prevent cybersquatters from registering trademark-protected names.

``The meeting also included the malicious conduct issue,’’ Metalitz said. ``We believe the new TLDs will provide a lot of new opportunities for phishing, pharming and malware, and we are trying to minimize the risk.’’

In a May report to ICANN, trademark owners asked for three main concessions prior to the release of the new TLDs:

-- The creation of an IP Clearinghouse, which would be a database of trademark-protected company and product names that registries would consult before selling names under the new domain name extensions. Having a trademark listed in the IP Clearinghouse wouldn't prevent a registry from selling the name in one of the new extensions, but it would be useful to the trademark owner in battling a cybersquatter using ICANN’s uniform dispute resolution policy (UDRP).

-- The establishment of a list of globally protected trademarks that would not be available for purchase from the new top-level domain registries except by the trademark owner. Included on the list would be global brands that have been registered in many countries and suffer from high levels of infringement. Having a brand included on this list would help a company avoid the legal costs associated with ICANN's UDRP process.

-- The creation of a streamlined procedure dubbed uniform rapid suspension that would allow a company to have a Web site created by a cybersquatter or typosquatter taken down immediately. Since three-fourths of all dispute resolution processes are uncontested, this streamlined procedure would save trademark owners time and legal fees in dealing with cybersquatters.

Reprinted with permission from NetworkWorld.com. Story copyright 2012 Network World, Inc. All rights reserved.
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