New Domain Names Should Protect Country Names, Proposal At WIPO Says 20/03/2018 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)A group of countries submitted a new proposal for the World Intellectual Property Organization committee on trademarks and geographical indications, set to meet next month, to protect country names and geographical names. The proponents suggest that this proposal, if adopted by the WIPO General Assembly, could influence the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ second round of registration for new generic top-level domain names. Georgia, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Peru, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates tabled a proposal last week for the 39th session of the Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications, which will take place from 23-26 April. The proposal [pdf] seeks to protect country names and geographical names “of national significance.” According to the proposal, “registering the name of a sovereign nation or geographical names of national significance by private owners results in a monopolisation of common assets by these private interests.” This monopolisation has negative consequences, the co-sponsors say, such as firms from a country may be prevented from using the name of their own country to market their goods or services. Another consequence could be that the reputation of a country may be damaged by the behaviour of the owner of such a registered sign, they add. The same risks arise online, and the proposal suggests that country names and geographical names be protected against their delegation as top-level domain names in the domain name system. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which oversees the domain name system, is planning to open a second round of registration for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), expected in 2020. The proponents note that two working groups were set up at ICANN to evaluate the conditions of protection for country names and geographical names. “Within the ICANN’s decision-making process, the interests of the countries are expressed through the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC),” whose role is to advise the ICANN Board. The board, however, notes the proposal but is not bound by the GAC’s recommendations. According to the co-sponsors, “it is crucial that the SCT continues its efforts in this area with a view that the General Assembly adopt the present proposal.” This adoption “would safeguard, at the top level within the DNS [domain name system], countries’ sovereign rights to protect their identities and reputations as well as their legitimate public policy interests.” Proposed Solution According to the proposal, the United Nations Terminology Bulletin for country names and the standard ISO 3166-1 lists names of countries. The protection should cover “the exact names and, in order to include misleading variations, the former name of a country, its common name, the translation and transliteration of that name, as well as the name in a short or adjectival form.” The proposal also suggests that each country name should be protected in the official language(s) of the country concerned and in the six official languages of the UN. For geographical names, the proposal also builds upon existing lists: the ISO 3166-2 list concerning regions; the list of sites forming part of the cultural and natural heritage (World Heritage List); and the names of capitals of the countries listed in the UN bulletin. “In order to give each state the possibility to obtain protection for geographical names that are not capitals, nor listed on the ISO 3166-2 list or on the World Heritage List,” the proposal says that “each country can, within a timeframe of 18 months, notify to the WIPO Secretariat a list of geographical names with national significance according to its relevant public policy or applicable national law.” Image Credits: Flickr – Phuong Thao Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."New Domain Names Should Protect Country Names, Proposal At WIPO Says" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.