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Who Can Take Away Your Domain?

I will post here and there live from the TRAFFIC East domain conference, because the overlap of SEO and domaining is just so darn interesting I can’t help myself. This is just one of those posts from the floor of TRAFFIC  East in Hollywood Florida….

Preserving the long term value of domain names for domain name registrants.

Who funds ICANN?  Domain Registrants do. And are domain registrants represented to ICANN? No. Unbelievable, but true until the ICA (Internet Commerce Association) started last year. It needs more grass-roots members.

Who lobbies for changes to the domain name dispute resolution process (UDRP/DRP)? Nobody on the domainer side… nobody on the webmaster side. But there are serious lobbies working to change the domain registration process on behalf of trademark groups (think Disney and RIAA and the like). Who will counter that lobbying action? SEMPO?

Howard Neu (a lawyer spcializing in domain issues) says that every domain out there violates or will violate someone’s trademark, somewhere. And the system is set up so that in the case of a trademark violation, the domain is taken away from the registrant and given to the “winner” of a trademark dispute. You all know that. What do you do to protect your long-term asset value? Of course you can file your own trademarks, which is good, but doesn’t insulate you from a dispute nor guarante you protections from someone else with a trademark, especially under the proposed “new” dispute rules being proposed by those RIAA-like trademark groups.

Philip Corwin of the ICA notes that special interests (corporations and large trademark interests) are trying to change US law as a lead in to changing International trademark rules, including a significant adjustmentof the current dispute laws that will make millions of domains subject to trademark dispute. No oneis representing the individual domain registrants, except the internet Commerce Association (ICA). The new DRP for new top level domains will be much different from the current UDRP process, favoring trademark interests (think of the RIAA as an example). The word is they will then push to move the new DRP back to exsting top level domains, accomplishing their overhaul of the intellectual property rules in favor of RIAA-like companies, much like Disney works copyright rules in its favor.

Think about it… if a 4 letter meme within your domain name is “confusingly similar” to a 4 letter acronym of some organization in the world somewhere, you may become subject to a trademark dispute under the proposed DRP rules. Your domain might be “given” to that entity, with no legal recourse for you. How about this one… if your domain name (or part of it) is deemed to “offend morality or public order”, then it is fair game to be taken away. That’s the language in the new proposal. Huh?  Are they serious?

Yes, they are.

And the ICA is trying to be the entity that protects domain registrants’ asset value in that now-very-politicalprocess. What else does the ICA support?

No more domain tasting… ICA agrees and supports the idea of eliminating domain tasting. From where I stand, that’s a good for all of us. Also no more registerFly’s… ICA outed the RegisterFly problem, where domain owners were losing their domains to a failing registrar that allegedly worked loopholes to avoid responsibility despite having been an accredited registrar. Do you see how ICA is protecting your long term asset value?

The ICA is new and needs funding to get established. Individual membership is somethinglike $295. Friday’s domain auction is expected to move between 10 and 20 milion dollars. I am wondering, why isn’t there a small mandatory ICA fee on domain auctions? What’s $500 on a $500,000 domain? What’s a hundred bucks on a $10,000 domain? Isn’t it like insurance, in a sense? A portion of ICA support is tax deducatle.. currently that portion is 80%. Seems like a no-brainer to fund the ICA, doesn’t it? Even if you flip your domain and suffer tax/asset/capital gains issues, the ICA portion is 80% deductable, no?

One Comment

  1. Emil wrote:

    This is a good article to give more idea what is ICA can do for all domain investor. This is a real scenario example of why we need to be part of ICA.

    Keep up the good work folks.


    Friday, October 12, 2007 at 3:31 am | Permalink