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ICANN may finally do somehing about cybersquatting

Cybersquatting has been a problem for many years, and one of the chief criticisms of ICANN has been its failure to stop the problem. With the new gTLD system coming next year, trademark holders are pushing ICANN to take action. Now a plan to stop cybersquatting is being planned.

Known as “IP Clearinghouse,” it involves a central database of trademarks that would be checked against each new domain registration. Names containing trademarks would be blocked, whereupon the registrant would have to demonstrate that his intended use for the name is lawful to continue with the registration.

The idea was submitted to ICANN by a group of corporations and trademark lawyers. A final decision regarding the plan may not occur until December.

It’s good that ICANN is finally looking into ways to stop cybersquatting, but the IP Clearinghouse plan raises some doubts in my mind. There are hundreds of thousands of trademarks, if not more. Would all of them be included in the database? Given the large number of trademarks, a high number of domain registrations would probably be blocked initially.

Finally, what about fair use? The vast number of domains containing trademarks comply with fair use laws. In the United States, a trademark can be used freely in a number of scenarios, such as to write a parody or criticism, or when using the name of trademark within its context (“using my iMac”).

The plan ICANN is considering gives too much preference to trademark holders. I’m happy to hear it’s finally trying to do something about cybersquatting, but the system being considered is flawed in that it automatically assumes the domain registrant is at fault, when, in reality, the vast majority of trademark domains comply with fair use laws.

Source | Yahoo Tech (AP)

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