THURSDAY, 20 SEPTEMBER 2012
"Signs of the Times": Market Reality
In "Market Reality", the final full session at the MARQUES Conference today (this afternoon is reserved for Workshops and Athenian adventures, followed by the Gala Dinner), a panel chaired by Caroline Perriard (Société des Produits Nestlé SA, Switzerland) was asked to review the latest developments concerning domain names, including the status of ICANN's new generic top-level domain (gTLD) program, rights protection mechanisms and fresh opportunities for brand owners.
First to speak was Erik Wilbers (Director, WIPO, Arbitration and Mediation Center), who gave a round-up of WIPO's domain dispute mechanisms. Erik gave a rapid account of the latest facts and figures, relief and remedies and Legal Rights Objections (LROs) under the new ICANN gTLD procedures (on which see this post on the Class 46 weblog). At this stage, the nature and outcome of LROs remain unknown. It is likely that some may involve two or more conflicting trade mark owners, and objections are also more likely where a trade mark is also, in another context, a generic term.
Speaking next, Andrea Jaeger-Lenz (HARTE-BAVENDAMM Rechtsanwälte) warned that, while everything was calm at the moment, the storm would be likely to break out once second-level domains (SLDs) were applied for under the new gTLD regime. Andrea cited some of the gTLDs published on "Reveal Day", including geographical and generic terms such as .berlin, .books and .lawyers -- which may be innocuous in themselves but might cause problems when an SLD is built upon them. Citing the fictitious example of an application by Herb Sleazy of Hamburg to register the SLD apple.porn in a US registry, Andrea ran through the legal issues and various options open to Apple, including uniform rapid suspension (URS), UDRP and traditional forms of litigation, then examined the equally fictitious case in which the disgruntled Sleazy sought to register apple.sucks -- an issue in which there has been a significant division among panellists, depending on their attitude towards freedom of speech. In further variations on the theme, we were introduced to (i) Sleazy's niece, a topless model rejoicing in the name of Melody Apple, for whom he registers the apple.adult domain, (ii) greengrocer Peter Fruit, who applies for apple.alsace for apples which he sells from that region of France and (iii) I. T. Nerd Services, registering apple-services.computer for its retail sales and consultancy services.
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