The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is currently analyzing technical and policy implications regarding the introduction of Internationalized Top-Level Domains (IDN TLDs) into the root. This is an important step in the continued evolution of the Internet by enabling language communities of the world that write non-Latin and extended Latin scripts (i.e. use languages that cannot be directly represented with the US-ASCII character set) to utilize their languages on the Internet. To date, the ICANN staff and Board have elected to focus their policy discussion primarily on country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) through a fast-track ccTLD only IDN initiative.
While the IDNC Working Group (IDNC) has made constructive progress on proposing a framework for the introduction of an initial set of IDN TLDs, the approach taken by the IDNC from a legal perspective is fundamentally flawed. The IDNC has failed to recognize that an IDN equivalent of country name involves much more than making a mere linguistic determination as to which IDN string is "meaningful" in a particular "official language", but also involves a number of international legal determinations as well, with far reaching legal implications. ICANN Staff must properly consider, reference and incorporate the comprehensive body of work that has been developed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in this area prior to making any determination on how it proceeds with respect to the adoption of the IDNC Final Report.
The paper, "Navigating Unforeseen Legal Consequences Involving the Implementation of Internationalized TLDs," [see download link below] will provide an analysis into the legal ramifications of certain recommendations in the IDNC final draft, and propose an alternative model founded upon well established and internationally recognized principles of law. More specifically, this paper proposes that the ICANN Board request WIPO to investigate the possibility of developing an administrative process based upon Article 10bis of the Paris Convention. If WIPO determines that such an administrative process is appropriate, then it should recommend to the ICANN community a set of policies, rules and procedures to implement such a system. In drafting the policies, it is recommended that WIPO propose guidelines seeking the guidance from internationally recognized linguistics bodies, such as UNESCO, to aid in the administrative decision process.
The fundamental premise of this paper is that IDN TLDs need to be introduced as soon as feasible. The recommendation to involve WIPO and UNESCO is made with the belief that their involvement will not only ensure the introduction of IDN TLDs is done correctly but can also happen in a very timely manner as outlined in this paper.
To download "Navigating Unforeseen Legal Consequences Involving the Implementation of Internationalized TLDs," in its entirely, click here.
The author is regularly engaged by registries (both ccTLD and gTLD) in a wide range of policy and operational matters. However, this paper is written in an individual capacity, and does not necessarily represent the viewpoints of any past, current or future clients, although I do readily acknowledge a keen interest on behalf of many within the ccTLD and gTLD community to expedite the IDN TLD process.
By Michael D. Palage, Intellectual Property Attorney and IT Consultant
|Data Center||Policy & Regulation|
|DNS Security||Regional Registries|
|Domain Names||Registry Services|
|Intellectual Property||Top-Level Domains|
|Internet of Things||Web|
|Internet Protocol||White Space|
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