Philip S. Corwin

Philip S. Corwin

Founding Principal of Virtualaw LLC, a Washington, DC Law and Public Policy Firm
Joined on February 22, 2007 – United States
Total Post Views: 197,042

About

Philip S. Corwin is Founding principal of Virtualaw LLC, a Washington, DC law and lobbying firm; he also serves as Of Counsel to Greenberg & Lieberman, a Washington-based firm specializing in intellectual property and domain name matters. With more than thirty years of federal legislative experience, his practice is focused on the dynamically evolving law of electronic commerce and intellectual property. His clients have included the Information Technology Association of America, First Virtual Holdings, PenOp, MP3.com, CenterSpan Communications, Sharman Networks Limited (Kazaa), the Internet Commerce Association, and Grooveshark. Prior to establishing Virtualaw LLC Mr. Corwin was a partner at Butera & Andrews, a government relations Director at the American Bankers Association, and a member of the United States Senate professional staff. 

Mr. Corwin has been a guest on numerous television and radio public affairs and business programs.  He has also discussed and debated copyright and other legal issues affecting digital media delivery at law and technology conferences, and has lectured on technology-related legislative and regulatory initiatives at such forums as Glasser Legalworks’ E-Commerce Law School and the Practicing Law Institute’s Internet Law Institute, as well as at programs of the American Bar Association and the District of Columbia Bar.  In December 2006 he participated as a speaker at a workshop on domain name “tasting” at the Sao Paulo, Brazil meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). He is a participant in the activities of ICANN’s Business Constituency.

Mr. Corwin is an active member of several American Bar Association Committees. He served as Chairman of the Business Law Section’s Committee on Legislation and as the Washington Liaison for the Science and Technology Section, and was Legislative Reporter for the Business Law Section's Cyberspace Law Committee.

Mr. Corwin received his B.A. in Government from Cornell University's College of Arts and Sciences and his JD from Boston College Law School. He is a member of the Bar in the District of Columbia and Massachusetts, and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Featured Blogs

The Coding of Online Brand Protection

Moore's law postulates that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit will double every two years. That law has given us smartphones and other devices with astonishingly diverse capabilities at ever lower costs. However, while it does not encompass online brand infringement, many trademark managers feel that their task is likewise expanding at exponential speed and imposing escalating costs. Potential cybersquatting based in the more than one thousand new generic top level domains is only one new source of anxiety. While the jury is still out on the level of harmful cybersquatting and the efficacy of the new Rights Protection Mechanisms (RPMs) for new gTLDs, that ICANN program is hardly the only challenge. more»

ICANN's Comment Period on Accountability Process Seeks Scope Limitations

Bowing to unprecedented community pressure in the form of a unanimous letter questioning its staff-developed Accountability Process, as well as a reconsideration request filed with the Board, on September 5th ICANN issued a notice titled "Public Comment Invited: Enhancing ICANN Accountability Process". The notice opens a 21-day public comment period on that staff proposal. However, ICANN staff apparently cannot resist asserting some form of top-down control even what that very conduct is at issue, and the notice and accompanying explanation contain attempts to restrict and unduly channel the scope of community comment. more»

Stress Test: Accountability Reconsideration Request Filed with ICANN Board

In a rapid follow-up to the unprecedented joint letter sent on August 26th by all members of the ICANN community questioning the proposed Accountability Process imposed by ICANN staff, three of the groups that signed that letter have now submitted a formal Reconsideration Request (RR) to the ICANN Board. The August 29th RR -- submitted jointly by the Business Constituency, Registry Stakeholders Group, and Non-Commercial Stakeholders group -- requests that ICANN "confer with the community as soon as possible to address these concerns and amend its plan in such a way that the community input is taken into account as the plan goes forward.  more»

ICANN Community Issues Unprecedented Letter Questioning ICANN's Proposed Accountability Process

In another unpredicted development the entire community of ICANN stakeholders has sent a joint letter to CEO Fadi Chehade and the ICANN Board that strongly questions the "Enhancing ICANN Accountability and Governance - Process and Next Steps" document published by ICANN staff on August 14th over widespread community objections. Signatories to the August 26th letter include the GNSO Council and all of the GNSO's stakeholder groups and constituencies, the Country Code Name Supporting Organization, the At-Large Advisory Committee, the Security and Stability Advisory Committee - and, most surprisingly, the Governmental Advisory Committee. more»

Constituencies Coalesce on IANA Transition and Enhanced ICANN Accountability Principles

It is now being broadly acknowledged that, as expressed unanimously by all GNSO constituencies at the recent ICANN London meeting, "as part of the IANA transition, the multi-stakeholder community has the opportunity and responsibility to propose meaningful accountability structures that go beyond just the IANA-specific accountability issues". In a July 22nd Keynote Address at the American Enterprise Institute, NTIA head Lawrence Strickling - whose agency must approve any IANA transition plan developed by Internet stakeholders - made this linkage an explicit element of U.S. government policy... more»

Is ICANN's .IR Response at Odds with the ACPA and ICE Domain Seizures?

An initial review of ICANN's response to litigation seeking it to turn over control of the ccTLDs of Iran, Syria and North Korea led to the conclusion that it had opened a "legal can of worms". A few more just wriggled out, and they threaten the basic assumption that underlies the U.S. statute governing cybersquatting and the practices engaged in by Federal officials seizing domain names engaged in intellectual property infringement. more»

ICANN's .IR Response Opens Legal Can of Worms

ICANN has filed its initial response to writs of attachment issued by U.S. Courts that seek to have ICANN transfer control of the country code top level domains (ccTLDs) of Iran, Syria and North Korea to plaintiffs in various legal actions. The lawsuits were brought under a U.S. law that permits victims of terrorism and their family survivors to seek the assets of governments that provided support or direction of the terrorist acts. more»

NTIA's FOIA Disclosures Shed Limited Light on IANA Transition Decision

On March 27, 2014, shortly after the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) March 14th announcement of its intent to transfer its counterparty status on ICANN's IANA functions contract to the global multistakeholder community, the conservative advocacy organization Americans for Limited Government (ALG) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with NTIA. ALG's request was for disclosure of "All records relating to legal and policy analysis developed by or provided to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) that support its decision to "transition key internet domain name functions," including any analysis showing whether the NTIA has the legal authority to perform the transition." more»

GNSO Constituencies Issue Unanimous Joint Statement on ICANN Accountability

In an unprecedented development, all stakeholder groups and constituencies comprising ICANN"s Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) unanimously endorsed a joint statement in support of the creation of an independent accountability mechanism "that provides meaningful review and adequate redress for those harmed by ICANN action or inaction in contravention of an agreed upon compact with the community". The statement was read aloud during a June 26th session on the IANA transition process held on the last day of the ICANN 50 public meeting in London. more»

ICANN is MIA on .XYZ

By now anyone who's part of the domain investment or broader ICANN community is aware of the curious saga of the recently launched .XYZ registry. Soon after its young CEO boldly stated, "we hope to reach 1 million .XYZ registrations in the first year and 5 million registrations in the first three years", the registry launched with a remarkable total of nearly 18,000 registrations on its first day, a total that has quickly grown to more than 100,000. But it was soon noted that "the zone files showed that over 70% of all .XYZ registrations had been made at NetworkSolutions... more»

Senate Appropriators Add IANA Language As House Requests GAO Study and Civil Society Opposes Shimkus

The Senate Appropriations Committee just reported out on June 5th its version of the Commerce-Justice-State Departments Appropriations bill for FY 15. In the course of its deliberations it added a consensus amendment on the IANA transition offered by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE)... Parsing the amendment's language, the requirement that NTIA conduct a thorough review and analysis of any proposed IANA transition plan amounts to telling it to do its job properly; implicit in this requirement is that the analysis be shared with Congress. more»

Second House Amendment Ups the Stakes on IANA Transition

The House of Representatives has passed another measure related to the proposed IANA functions transition, and has again attached it to "must pass" legislation. This move ups the ante and may well be the final straw that compels the Senate Commerce Committee to hold its own oversight hearing on the IANA transition proposal.On May 30th the House adopted the Duffy Amendment to the Appropriations bill funding the Commerce, Justice, and State Departments in FY 2015. The final vote on the amendment was 229 in favor and 178 opposed -- it was fairly partisan outcome, with only ten Democrats voting aye while just one Republican voted nay. more»

DOTCOM Act Passes House as Rubio Leads Senate Call for IANA Oversight Hearings

The Shimkus Amendment to the $601 billion National Defense Authorization Act (HR 4435) passed the House of Representatives on May 22nd by a mostly partisan vote of 245–177. While all 228 Republicans present and voting supported the amendment only 17 Democrats voted "aye", with 177 in opposition. Final passage on the entire bill was a bipartisan vote of 325–98. The Senate has not yet passed its version of a FY 2015 Pentagon funding bill, and once it does all the differences between the two versions must be reconciled before it can be sent to President Obama for his signature. more»

House Committees Taking Aim at IANA Transition Proposal

In an unanticipated move a third Committee of the US House of Representatives has weighed in with concerns regarding the NTIA's proposed transition of the US role as counterparty to ICANN's IANA functions contract to one with the "global multistakeholder community". On May 13th the House Armed Services Committee Report for HR 4435, the Defense Authorization bill, was released. more»

NETmundial Multistakeholder Statement Concludes Act One of 2014 Internet Governance Trifecta

On April 24th the NETmundial "Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance" concluded with the issuance of an eight-page statement. This non-binding document falls short of the "Magna Carta for the Internet" called for in an opening statement delivered by Tim Berners Lee, but it does set the stage for the other two major 2014 events that will affect the course of Internet Governance (IG) - the IGF meeting in Istanbul, Turkey and the ITU meeting in Busan, Korea. more»

Competition Is Sexy - Separation or Integration of the Domain Name Sales Channel?

Back in the early days of the public Internet, Network Solutions had a monopoly on .com, .org., and .net domain registrations and charged $100 per domain for a 2-year registration. Growing complaints about that predatory pricing was one of the factors that led to ICANN's creation. NetSol established an internal "firewall" in 1998 and its wholesale prices soon dropped to $6 per domain. VeriSign acquired NetSol for $21 billion in 2000, and then sold off the registrar side of the business to private equity in 2003. more»

If the Stakeholders Already Control the Internet, Why NETmundial and the IANA Transition?

Last weekend C-Span, the public service network that broadcasts proceedings of the U.S. Congress and other U.S. government functions, aired a segment of its series "the Communicators" featuring ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade; C-Span describes the show as "Half-hour conversations with the leaders who shape our digital future". While the interview is actually just 28 minutes long, and appears to have been recorded on January 28th, it contains some surprising statements that raise some intriguing questions. more»

ICANN's Uncertain State: 2014

In a recent video interview conducted while he attended the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade stated "legitimacy comes from accountability". That statement is correct. It is also troubling, in that many of ICANN's recent policies and activities raise serious questions regarding whether it is sufficiently accountable and therefore perceived as acting in a legitimate manner - as well as whether it is continuing to faithfully abide by the Affirmation of Commitments (AOC) it entered into when the US government terminated direct oversight of ICANN in 2009. more»

Downsizing Sao Paulo

On January 27th the Executive Multistakeholder Committee (EMC) held its first meeting to plan the "Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of the Internet Governance" scheduled to be held in Sao Paulo on April 23rd-24th. A review of that planning session's results indicates a Sao Paulo meeting with downsized attendance and, most likely, accompanying expectations.  more»

USG Provides First Official Statement on Montevideo, Brazil, and ITU Plenipotentiary

The United States government (USG) has provided its first official reaction to the October 2013 Montevideo Statement issued by organizations responsible for coordination of the Internet technical infrastructure, the upcoming April Internet governance conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil , as well as other matters related to Internet governance -- including the ITU Plenipotentiary meeting scheduled for October in Busan, South Korea. more»

ICANN@15: Born in the USA - But Will It Stay?

This article was originally intended to be a short one focused on indications that ICANN was exploring the establishment of a legal nexus outside the United States and discussing what that might mean - and whether it was consistent with the Affirmation of Commitments (AOC) entered into with the United States in 2009. Then, as completion neared, came the sudden and nearly simultaneous release of the October 7th Montevideo Statement and the announcement two days later of a proposed 2014 Brazil "Summit" focused on restructuring Internet governance. At that point the task vastly expanded. more»

ICANN at the Inflection Point: Implications and Effects Of the GAC Beijing Communique

Although this article was first published just a few days ago, on May 8th, there have been several important intervening developments. First, on May 10th ICANN released a News Alert on "NGPC Progress on GAC Advice" that provides a timetable for how the New gTLD program Committee will deal with the GAC Communique. Of particular note is that, as the last action in an initial phase consisting of "actions for soliciting input from Applicants and from the Community', the NGPC will begin to "Review and consider Applicant responses to GAC Advice and Public Comments on how Board should respond to GAC Advice... more»

The 'Domain Rights Dozen' - ICA's RPM Revision Review Principles

As the fall of 2012 begins the implementation of rights protection mechanisms (RPMs) for new gTLDs is reaching a critical stage... Given the half year interval between the upcoming Toronto ICANN meeting and the following Beijing meeting in April 2013, it is highly desirable, and perhaps essential, that community discussion in Toronto result in a clear consensus on how RPM implementation should proceed if new gTLDs are to launch without further delay and if potential registrants are to perceive them as acceptable platforms for speech and commerce. more»

2011 UDRP Filings Up at WIPO, Down at NAF - And Still Infinitesimal

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) recently issued a detailed press release regarding Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) cases for which it provided arbitration services in 2011 and, once again, the number of WIPO filings was up. According to WIPO: "In 2011, trademark holders filed a record 2,764 cybersquatting cases covering 4,781 domain names with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO Center) under procedures based on the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), an increase of 2.5% and 9.4% over the previous highest levels in 2010 and 2009, respectively." Yet that's an incomplete picture. more»

ICANN Board Meetings Should be Webcast Live

ICANN has just announced that, starting with the June meeting in Prague, the ICANN Board will no longer meet and cast votes on the final day of its three annual public meetings. We think this is an ill-advised step backwards from ICANN's commitment to transparency and the accountability that accompanies it. We also believe that ICANN should have told "the community" it was considering this major change and asked for public comment before making such a decision. more»

MegaBust's MegaQuestions Cloud the Net's Future

Mid-January 2012 marked a major inflection point for digital copyright policy in the United States... Yet no one involved with Congressional interaction on either side of the issue believes it has been sidetracked for long, and "Hollywood" and "Silicon Valley" are both plotting their next moves in this high-stakes game to further define the responsibilities and potential liabilities... The resolution of this dispute will determine the ability of Internet services to move to "the cloud"... more»

SOPA Could Shutter Registrars and other Domain Name Industry Intermediaries

The Internet Commerce Association has just sent a letter to senior members of the House Judiciary Committee regarding the likely unintended but potentially devastating impact of H.R. 3261 ("SOPA") as introduced upon ICANN-accredited registrars and other participants in the broad domain name industry, as well as upon the domain registrants who use those services. more»

ICANN and Ethics

On September 2nd ICANN opened a one-month public comment period asking whether its Conflict of Interest Policy and related Bylaws should be altered. In light of recent heightened scrutiny of ICANN's policies regarding permissible employment options for departing Directors and key employees this announcement might have been welcome news. Instead, it's a narrow, cart-before-the-horse initiative that seems tone-deaf to predictable stakeholder, political and public relations fallout. more»

ICA Tells DOC of Concerns Over USG and GAC "Scorecards"

The ICA has just dispatched a letter to Assistant Secretary of Commerce Lawrence Strickling in advance of the talks scheduled in Brussels on February 29-March 1 between ICANN's Board and its Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). Our letter expresses strong concerns that the positions being advocated by the U.S. government and the GAC regarding the proposed Final Applicant Guidebook (AG) for new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) would be detrimental to ICANN's multi-stakeholder policy process and would undermine the rights of legitimate registrants at new gTLDs. more»

The U.S. "Scorecard" for Brussels: Draconian Trademark Rules & The End of Private-Sector Leaders

The U.S. "Scorecard" for Brussels Proposes Draconian Trademark Rules - And May Mean the End of Unlimited New gTLDs and/or the ICANN Experiment in Private Sector-Led Internet Governance... On Friday, January 28th the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) circulated its submission to ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) containing suggestions for what positions the GAC should push for at its February 28 - March 1 meeting with ICANN's Board to air disagreements over provisions of the Proposed Final Applicant Guidebook (AG) for new gTLDs. more»

Google & eBay, Keywords & Domains, & ICANN

Sell a trademark as a keyword for directed search or online auctions and make $billions. But use a trademark in a domain name for direct search and lose the domain, or worse. The gap between how trademark law treats the two species of search has grown wider in the wake of several landmark 2010 trademark law decisions -- and provides another sound reason why ICANN should not establish any new rights protections for new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) beyond those STI-RT compromise positions already included in the fourth version of its Draft Applicant Guidebook (DAGv4). more»

ICA to ICANN: The IRT Must Open Up Or Be Stripped of Official Status and Support

On April 21st the Internet Commerce Association submitted a formal request to Mr. Frank Fowlie, ICANN Ombudsman, requesting an immediate investigation of the non-compliance of the Implementation Recommendation Team (IRT) with applicable provisions of ICANN's Bylaws. The IRT was created by a March Resolution adopted by the ICANN Board during its Mexico City meeting, and was charged with proposing "solutions" to the concerns of trademark holders. Unfortunately, the IRT has chosen to operate in a non-transparent manner... more»

ICANN and the Hyper-Aggressive Trademark Owners: The "Monster Test"

We read and hear a lot of complaints from trademark interests about allegedly rampant cybersquatting and other forms of trademark infringement, but it's rare to see a story about reverse domain name hijacking and other abuses committed by them. That's what made it so refreshing to see an article in the Saturday, April 4th Wall Street Journal titled "The Scariest Monster of All Sues for Trademark Infringement – Fancy Audio-Cable Outfit Defends Its Brands; A Mini Golf Course Fights Back". more»

ICA Posts Position Paper and Analysis of Snowe "Anti-Phishing" Legislation

The Internet Commerce Association (ICA) has posted a position paper and analysis of S. 2661, introduced on 2/25/08 in the US Senate. While we are firmly opposed to phishing and other criminal activities that may utilize domain names we are very concerned about the provisions of the proposal that appear to provide trademark owners with a means to avoid both UDRP and ACPA actions and alternatively bring private claims against domain names with a lower burden of proof and the potential for far higher monetary damages, without even requiring an allegation that the DN was in any way being utilized in a phishing scheme... more»

ICANN Threatens RegisterFly Termination

ICANN sent a 10-page letter to RegisterFly on February 21st threatening to terminate its accreditation. The letter is available here. ICANN's not exactly advertising this -- no conspicuous notice appears on its home page and, more curiously, no update has been posted by the Ombudsman despite two prior postings about RegisterFly in the past week. A member of the general public would be hard pressed to find out that any action has been threatened. more»

ICA Questions ICANN on RegisterFly

The Internet Commerce Association sent this letter to ICANN yesterday in regard to the RegisterFly situation: "I am writing to you in my capacity as Counsel to the Internet Commerce Association (ICA), a non-profit trade association dedicated to promoting and protecting the rights of domain name (DN) owners... It has come to our attention that an ICANN-accredited registrar is in the midst of what appears to be a near-complete operational breakdown, and that its ongoing failure to carry out its responsibilities is causing substantial economic loss to tens of thousands of DN registrants in both the United States and multiple foreign jurisdictions." more»