August 3, 2000
I have pleasure in attaching a copy of a letter received by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on June 28, 2000, from the Honorable Mr. Richard Alston, Senator, Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts of the Government of Australia. In this letter WIPO is requested by Australia and 19 of its other member Governments to develop, for the assistance of the administrators of the ccTLDs, voluntary guidelines for the development of practices and policies to curb abusive and bad faith registration of protected names, and to resolve related disputes.
WIPO has accepted with enthusiasm the request contained in the letter from the Minister, and is addressing this communication to all administrators of the ccTLDs to formally offer its assistance in the area concerned and to start establishing a line of communication with them.
Over the last several years WIPO has been extensively involved in the establishment of policies and rules for the protection of intellectual property in the Domain Name System (DNS). In July 1998, WIPO initiated a broad international process of consultations (the "WIPO Internet Domain Name Process") aimed at reducing the tension between intellectual property, most notably trademarks and service marks, and domain names in the gTLDs. This process culminated in the recommendations contained in the Final Report of the WIPO Internet Domain Name Process, proposing, inter alia, a set of improved registration practices and a uniform dispute resolution procedure for domain name conflicts in the gTLDs. Several of the key recommendations formulated in the Report have since been put into effect by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) through its adoption of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement in November 1999 and its implementation of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) in December 1999.
Extensive experience has been gained under the UDRP since December 1999 and the procedure is now widely regarded as an effective intellectual property enforcement mechanism in relation to the DNS. In addition to its role in the design of the UDRP, WIPO also has been heavily involved in the administration of the cases filed under the procedure through the activities of the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center, which is one of the ICANN accredited dispute resolution service providers and before which more than 900 cases have been filed between parties from over 60 countries.
As a result of these initiatives, and in particular since the entry into operation of the UDRP, the situation for intellectual property rightsholders in the gTLDs has improved markedly. That being the case, the intellectual property community is now, in a second phase, increasingly focusing its attention on curbing rights infringements in the ccTLDs. This trend is further reinforced by the rapidly increasing use of the ccTLDs (as compared to the gTLDs) and the fact that many of them are moving from a "closed" to a more "open" business model. It is in light of these developments that the Governments’ request addressed to WIPO, and this communication to the ccTLDs, have to be seen.
WIPO offers its assistance to the administrators of the ccTLDs in the following principal areas:
(1) The design of appropriate domain name registrations practices aimed at preventing friction between domain names and intellectual property rights;
(2) The design of appropriate alternative dispute resolution procedures, to complement traditional court litigation, aimed at resolving domain name disputes expeditiously and at a moderate cost;
(3) The provision of dispute resolution services through the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center to any ccTLD administrator who wishes to retain it for that purpose.
In formulating this offer of assistance, WIPO is fully conscious of the wide variety in the economic, cultural, and linguistic circumstances affecting each country or territory involved. The assistance will be provided by WIPO’s international and multilingual staff which, due to its experience in a global organization, is well-placed to serve the ccTLD community in all its diversity.
Prior to the issuance of this communication, a number of ccTLD administrators have already approached WIPO for assistance in the establishment of registration practices and dispute resolution procedures for their domains. As a result of these efforts, some of these ccTLDs have adopted WIPO’s recommendations and retained the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center as dispute resolution service provider, while others are in active discussion with WIPO regarding these matters. More details regarding these ccTLDs are available at http://arbiter.wipo.int/domains/cctld/index.html.
Administrators of ccTLDs who are interested in taking up this offer of assistance, or who wish to explore further the possibilities in this regard, are encouraged to get in touch with my colleague, David Muls, who is coordinating WIPO’s work in this area. His contact details are as follows:
Electronic Commerce Projects Section
Office of Legal and Organization Affairs
Phone: +41 22 338 99 20
Fax: +41 22 740 37 00
In addition, it would be very useful if the administrators of the ccTLDs who are interested in taking up this offer of assistance designate a specific contact person for purposes of communicating with WIPO.
We are conscious that the support of the ccTLD administrators will be indispensable for safeguarding the rights of intellectual property holders in the country domains. We very much look forward to working together with you as we embark upon this important work.
Assistant Director General
WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center