The Great American Snowe Job

A new bill currently seeking passage in the US senate is trying to surreptitiously change the face of the domain industry and extend American ‘ownership’ on the web. You and me stand to lose any domain we own, developed, undeveloped, tm-ed, non-tm-ed, geo and generic… I kid you not.

Be prepared to protect or lose your domain names, generics or any others, specially if they’re .com or .net as those are controlled by Verisign. The bill goes way beyond its brief… if it becomes law, a lot of small business will be hurt and badly.

As I understand it… if you own a developed domain with an international tm, yet an American company manages to get a tm or even uses the term as a ‘mark’… it can file a civil suit against you for the domain name – bypassing udrp and wipo completely.

Straight for the jugular… backed by the rich daddies at Cadna.org – A straight attempt at ‘reverse domain hijacking’ by the big companies themselves, trying to make a buck of the work of small investors and entrepreneurs worldwide.

Specially when you consider the title of the bill and then read the fine print.

Really hope that US representatives read before they vote, this could erode almost $10 billion of wealth from individuals and companies, mostly in the US. Not to mention huge losses of business for the pillars of the internet, registrars, developers, ad companies, service providers and even ISPs.

Foreign domainers / registrars are not exempt in the case of the two tlds under threat – .com and .net for the simple reason that the registry Verisign is a US corporation subject to US laws.

What can you do to fight it?

Join the ICA

Join the discussion at DNForum

Join the discussion at NamePros

Digg the article

Make people awareWe need lots of people to send letters to organizations, grassroots movements, and media making them aware of this issue. If we can get more organizations to pick up the fight the better chance we have of getting this bill revised or shot down entirely. (by NameCharger)

Here’s the meat of the story –

Another factor would be whether the person had offered to sell the domain name to any third party “without having used…the domain name in the bona fide offering of goods and services”, a provision that appears to be aimed directly at “parked” websites consisting solely of advertising links.

Again, despite the bill’s title, none of these trademark-related provisions contain any requirement that the domain name and website had actually been utilized to facilitate a criminal “phishing” scheme. They address essentially the same harms for which the UDRP and ACPA already provide remedies, but in a more expansive manner with the registrant at greater legal disadvantage and subject to harsher penalties.

In cases filed by the FTC, FCC, and state officials, cease and desist orders and injunctions could be obtained without any requirement to allege, much less prove, that the domain name registrant had actual or implied knowledge of likely misleading effect.

For those of you who’d rather do their own research –

Here’s the bill

And the ICA reaction

And an interesting article by dnw on the ramifications (read the comments too)

Here’s what C|Net has to say about it

And one more article

As the domaining world wakes up to the phenomenon, we have more reactions –

By John Levine at CircleID

TheDomains article explains with Enom’s ‘cuba’ domains example

Jaikumar Vijayan for ComputerWorld

The kind of letters you’d be receiving if this became law

A sad day for the internet if this gets passed as it is. Lets hope and pray not

Published by MediaWizard
Samit Madan is an advertising professional with over 25 years of experience. He's known as the MediaWizard due to his expertise in all related industry verticals including design, promotions, brand development, corporate communications, printing, web development and search marketing. He currently heads MediaWiz, a leading Media Publishing and Services Company.

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