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Project dotVinum for .WINE Domain Names

Jean Guillon

This article is a feedback on the sensitive .WINE dotVinum project which aims to create an extension for the wine community on Internet.

Questions to Be Answered

• Protection of rights at an international level: how to protect trademarks?

• Funding: who has the financial capacity to invest in such a project?

• Awareness of the targeted community: how to explain in simple words the impact of such a project?

• Lusts: Nationalities of wine are many, but only one organization in the world will be allowed to launch .WINE, which country will lead the wine community online?

• Issues of eligibility for .wine domain names, how to provide an easier access for people from the community ?

• Necessary documents to support the project: which arguments to get people to support the .Wine project:

1. Offer of a seat on the .WINE Board of Directors for its governance?

2. Suggest an active participation in the writing of the rules and interest accordingly?

3. Set up an online petition such as many projects already do?

4. Launch a Sunrise period for supporters to the project?

A Complex Task

Launching an Internet extension is a complex task, especially when addressing to a community whose domain names will be shared by candidates who sometimes share the same name, do not forget a name ... domain is unique.

Because the .WINE extension is dedicated to a specific area, it favors it exclusively. Unfortunately the domain names that will be created already exist in other domain name extensions. For example, if chateau.fr already exists, chateau.wine will most likely be created as well.

Brands and generics terms are issues for which solutions will have to be found. If the mechanism for trademark protection will be relatively simple to implement, that of assigning a generic term is more delicate.

An Example Among Others

The domain bottle.com, for example, is owned by an inventor who must derive great benefit from this generic term to promote his bottles on his web site. Bottle.wine could pose a risk to the visibility of his activity if it was created. And yet, in the context of a community project, this inventor is not related to the activity of wine, so It is unlikely he could become the owner of bottle.wine, while it may be a domain name that he wishes to acquire. Such a generic domain name would certainly generate more online presence.

Problem on the horizon; he may not be the only one interested in this domain name.

Protection of Prior Rights

Unlike a brand that can be owned by several persons, the domain name is unique and has only one owner ... worldwide.

In this context, any holder of a prior right may apply at a preferred phase called the "Sunrise" period. This is a common practice and quite well controlled now.

.WINE Domain Name Are Worth It

It is important to be the holder of your trademark as a domain name in your activity. It allows three essential things:

  1. Be present on the Internet with a name that represents you in your business;
  2. Avoid having to race to the other domain names in extensions that are not related to the activity of wine.

    Why would you register www.my-vignoble.sea if you are winemaker in Bordeaux? However, www.my-vignoble.wine may be of interest if you want to export yourself using the Internet.

  3. And finally, once you hold your .WINE domain name, your budget is finally mastered. Any further domain name extensions to be created in the years to come will be less important since you own the most important one.

Geographical Indications: The Nightmare

While it is easy to protect a trademark, it is more difficult to protect a geographical indication. The wine is a bit unusual in that because there is little information in order to define clearly these indications, the famous "GI".

Under the project dotVinum, the .WINE domain names are exclusively for people of the wine industry and not to anyone interested in acquiring a domain name ending in .WINE. This means that the eligibility requirements must protect the institutions of wine brands, wine people, to summarize: the world of wine.

Prohibited Questions

An example I like to give is: who can claim bordeaux.wine?

  • The city of Bordeaux?
  • The Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux?
  • A Spanish guide who organizes tours of the Bordeaux region?
  • An American website that sells wines from Bordeaux?
  • Any speculator who will try to sell you the domain for hundreds of thousands of dollars?

It is precisely this kind of example that makes the hair stand up all the institutions in which I introduced the dotVinum project to and whose speech is now more or less unanimous:

  • "This project must be French !";
  • "We need to be present in the writing of the .WINE rules!";
  • "It is important to protect our Appelation d'Origine Contrôlées(AOC!)";
  • "Although we cannot afford to fund such a project, we will find them to act against any project that does not adequately protect our wines!"

Specifically today, my interlocutors do not want to "go for it" but prefer to "wait and see". It is a position I understand because launching a project of this magnitude is for a global community, it also is an expensive initiative.

However...

  • … Is it really expensive when you are alone in receiving the authorization to address a global market?
  • Is it expensive when you become the choke point of an entire industry?
  • Is it expensive when you know people will remember your organization is the one which started it?

Last Reminder

Do not forget: there can be one governance structure for the .WINE domain names, that at an international level. One Registry will be cleared through well-defined rules, to create domain names for the wine community. This project is internationally oriented and cannot, under any circumstances, be limited to the protection of wines in a single region. In this context it is important to take action now to build a global project.

Provisional date for filling applications: second half of 2011.

By Jean Guillon, New generic Top-Level Domain specialist. More blog posts from Jean Guillon can also be read here.

Related topics: Domain Names, Top-Level Domains

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Comments

Ever heard of this thing called a search engine? jeroen  –  Mar 15, 2011 12:08 AM PDT

You register a random domain name, arrange appropriate links and guess what, nobody has to guess what domain name you have, it could be in any TLD.

Your "Prohibited Questions" list exactly show why more TLDs are completely ridiculous.

If people want to find something on the internet they will google/yahoo/bing it and they will get what they want.

Oh and guess what: search engines don't cost anything!

Identity is the password. Jean Guillon  –  Mar 15, 2011 6:15 AM PDT

These prohibited questions are difficult one to answer but they are answered in the rules to apply for a .wine. It is what strengthens the wine identity.

Now, when so many TLDs are to be launched at the same time, it is going to be hard to be seen for a new-comer with a new web site.
At least, with a .wine domain name, he will get a better chance to be categorized in the wine results. It is the role of a search engine to work on its algorithm to provide the best results. When 200+ new TLDs are launched at the same time and you want to have indexed your wine web site: if you can't register your .COM, which one do you chose?

Let’s imagine you are in the wine business but you already have a domain name and .WINE comes out with its dedicated web sites, its applications, its directories, its network dedicated to promoting wine online : don’t you find it interesting to become the owner of a .wine domain name ?

And the same applies to all new generic Top Level Domains : I take it as a gift.

> At least, with a .wine domain jeroen  –  Mar 15, 2011 9:07 AM PDT

> At least, with a .wine domain name, he will get a better chance to be categorized in the wine results

As the various search engines really can't care about the TLD of a website (and that is the only thing we are talking about here it seems, just forgetting the rest of the internet like usual), it won't give a better chance at all.

Next to that the various 'wine' places are already represented on the Internet, these domains have proper links to them already and also history. TLD is not a factor in search ranking and thus won't help a thing anywhere. Which is why TLDs in general are a bad idea to invest in, yes they generate money for the owner of the TLD and the domain handling people and the people who do advertising etc, but they don't bring the person who owns the domain anything, they can take any domain and it will just work as well as long as they have proper content on it.

And there is one really big flaw in this whole '.wine' idea: which language do people speak and write? Or is there also going to be a .wijn and .vin, and every other permutation under the sun?

As you seem to perceive DNS as an index maybe you should set up a website which has an index links to all the proper websites with wine information on them? Can be done today and without a specific TLD that a major portion of consumers don't want to type (or did the French finally started liking English? ;)

But as said, Search Engines solve the problem of finding a wine brand and everything else already. It is rare that people type hostnames, they only do so when it is their own, for everything else, there is mastercard, ehmm google.

You do have a business case though, like everybody else that wants to set up a new TLD: more money spend by the domain buyers for virtual nothingness.

At least, with a .wine domain name, Jean Guillon  –  Mar 16, 2011 4:24 AM PDT

At least, with a .wine domain name, he will get a better chance to be categorized in the wine results. As the various search engines really can't care about the TLD of a website (and that is the only thing we are talking about here it seems, just forgetting the rest of the internet like usual), it won't give a better chance at all.

- .WINE domain names’ first purpose is to create an identity for the wine community. The pitch does not focus on search engines only.

Next to that the various 'wine' places are already represented on the Internet, these domains have proper links to them already and also history. TLD is not a factor in search ranking and thus won't help a thing anywhere. Which is why TLDs in general are a bad idea to invest in, yes they generate money for the owner of the TLD and the domain handling people and the people who do advertising etc, but they don't bring the person who owns the domain anything, they can take any domain and it will just work as well as long as they have proper content on it.

- “they don't bring the person who owns the domain anything” : I disagree here, it is why people decide to use a .US instead of a .EU. They bring an identity to your content. The URL is what your eye see in the description of your result on Google. I say it brings a lot to the owner from in terms of identity !

And there is one really big flaw in this whole '.wine' idea: which language do people speak and write? Or is there also going to be a .wijn and .vin, and every other permutation under the sun?

- According to the results on the .WINE, .VIN and .VINO could be a target as expressly said on the dotVinum project’s web site. It is important to be able to express yourself in your language.

As you seem to perceive DNS as an index maybe you should set up a website which has an index links to all the proper websites with wine information on them? Can be done today and without a specific TLD that a major portion of consumers don't want to type (or did the French finally started liking English? ;)

- I don’t understand the connection between the links you mention and French starting to like English but just for your information, I am French and decided to go for an English string, not only because the figures are good but also because I like to speak this language.
- I would say this is a SEO thing and the .WINE directories I think you’re talking about are on the paper today, even including geo-localization. There is a lot to be created for the wine community in particular. Applications and specific web sites offering free content (for a start) are to be promoted to the owners of .wine domain names. This is the plus all registries should give with their new domain names. Please read more here : http://english.dotvinum.org/partenaires/applications (in English).

But as said, Search Engines solve the problem of finding a wine brand and everything else already. It is rare that people type hostnames, they only do so when it is their own, for everything else, there is mastercard, ehmm google.
You do have a business case though, like everybody else that wants to set up a new TLD: more money spend by the domain buyers for virtual nothingness.

- This is pessimistic but I understand your opinion. Please take the time to read more about the dotVinum project. I think you have an application/online service in mind to promote .wine domain names. I would be happy to promote it as long as it is dedicated to .WINE domain name owners.

Interesting Jean -- so if I read Christopher Parente  –  Mar 15, 2011 6:39 AM PDT

Interesting Jean — so if I read this correctly, you propose a restricted .WINE TLD to attempt to secure industry acceptance. Correct?

Priceless comment — "we won't fund this project, but we will attack anyone who does."

Good luck - it's always easier to spread FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) than it is to try and secure consensus.

Not so restricted. Jean Guillon  –  Mar 16, 2011 4:32 AM PDT

I have to admit I was not expecting to receive some of these comments but wine is very present in our culture and there is only one seat available. It is not about identity only apparently.

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