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WIPO Internet Domain Name Process

Second WIPO Internet Domain Name Process: Archive

On June 28, 2000, WIPO received a letter of request from the Government of Australia and 19 of its other member Governments to initiate a Second WIPO Process to address certain intellectual property issues relating to Internet domain names, that remain to be considered following the First WIPO Internet Domain Name Process.

In response to this request, on July 10, 2000, WIPO commenced the Second WIPO Internet Domain Name Process.

In April 1999, WIPO published its Final Report on the First WIPO Internet Domain Name Process, focusing on issues raised inter alia by the intersection of trademarks and domain names. The WIPO recommendations from the First Report were largely implemented by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and have resulted in implementation of a successful administrative system for resolving domain name disputes involving trademarks and a system of best practices for domain name registration authorities, designed to avoid such conflicts.

However, a number of issues were identified as being outside the scope of the First WIPO Process, and required further consultation and resolution. These issues arise in the event of the bad faith, abusive, misleading, or unfair use of:

  • personal names
  • International Nonproprietary Names (INNs) for Pharmaceutical Substances, recommended by the World Health Organization in order to protect patient safety worldwide
  • names and acronyms of international intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) (such as the United Nations)
  • geographical indications, indications of source, or geographical terms
  • trade names

The Second WIPO Internet Domain Name Process addressed these outstanding issues through a process of consultations — online and through in-person regional meetings — resulting in a Final Report published on September 3, 2001.

The Final Report makes practical recommendations based on the consultation process, and was presented to WIPO's Member States and the Internet community, including ICANN.

At their meeting held from September 24 to October 3, 2001, WIPO Member States decided to subject the Report of the Second WIPO Internet Domain Name Process to a comprehensive analysis by the Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT), meeting in two Special Sessions for this purpose. The first Special Session was held from November 29 to December 4, 2001, the second from May 21 to 24, 2002. All working documents of the Special Sessions are available to the public.

At their meeting from September 23 to October 1, 2002, WIPO Member States took a decision based on the recommendations of the SCT, this decision was transmitted to the ICANN in 2003.

The SCT has continued discussion on a number of issues relating to country names and geographical indications, at its ninth, tenth, eleventh and fifteenth sessions.

On March 23, 2005, the UN Legal Advisers sent a letter to ICANN supporting WIPO's recommendations regarding the protection of the names and acronyms of IGOs.

Following further WIPO communications, on March 13, 2006, ICANN informed the Secretariat that while it had not been possible to achieve consensus among ICANN’s constituencies concerning the recommendations of the Second WIPO Internet Domain Name Process, that progress might be possible with regard to the protection of names and acronyms of IGOs. Subsequently, ICANN staff recommended in 2007 that new gTLD agreements may provide for protection of the names and acronyms of IGOs at the second level through a Dispute Resolution Procedure (separate from the UDRP) incorporated in New gTLD contracts. To date such policy remains under consideration for implementation.

Further to previous additional WIPO communications, on November 1, 2010, the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center submitted to ICANN a Letter concerning Protection Against the Misleading Use of the Names and Acronyms of IGOs.

It may be noted that the ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) Principles Regarding New gTLDs (2007) provide inter alia that ICANN should avoid country, territory or place names unless in agreement with the relevant governments or public authorities, and that the process for introducing new gTLDs must make proper allowance for prior third party rights, in particular trademark rights as well as rights in the names and acronyms of IGOs.

ICANN’s current policies for its New gTLD Program foresees a degree of protection for certain geographic names at the top and second level, and for IGOs at the top level.