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: 134,020


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,, 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

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»