March 20, 1998
The Honorable Clarence L. Irving
Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director,
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Department of Commerce - Room 4898
Washington, DC 20230
Dear Mr. Irving:
On behalf of the Interactive Services Association ("ISA"), the leading trade association representing the consumer-focused Internet online industries, I submit the following comments in response to the administration's Proposal on Management of Internet Names and Addresses ("Green Paper"). Our members, who are focused on growing the consumer-based marketplace for Internet online services, recognize that the continued growth and promise of the medium hinges upon the level of trust and confidence consumers have in the medium. We therefore appreciate the administration's work, embodied in the Green Paper, to resolve this important issue in the interests of both consumers and the Internet online industry.
The ISA believes that the Green Paper is, on whole, a balanced and comprehensive document for resolving the current domain name problems which threaten to retard the growth of the medium. It is apparent that the Internet Interagency Task Force, chaired by Ira Magaziner, shares the ISA's conviction that consumer trust and security are vital to the success of the Internet. The Task Force has struck the delicate balance between ensuring network reliability, security and efficiency while maintaining a sensitivity to the possibility for consumer confusion and frustration.
The ISA strongly applauds the care taken in crafting this document. Further. the ISA enthusiastically endorses the process which yielded it. The achievement of this paper is due, in no small measure, to the inclusive manner in which administration conducted the process. During this process, the ISA has worked closely with the administration to provide a framework for industry dialogue and communication. In July, the administration, industry representatives and stakeholders shared ideas and concerns in the Forum on Internet Domain Names co-hosted by the ISA, the Information Technology Association of America and the Center for Democracy and Technology. The ISA looks forward to continued cooperation and communication demonstrated in the domain name process .
The ISA has a diverse membership, representing all facets of the Internet online marketplace. To that end, the views expressed in this letter do not represent the position of each and every ISA member on this critical issue of Internet governance. With that in mind, the ISA respectfully offers the following comments regarding the Green Paper and its implementation.
l . Trademarks -- The ISA believes that it is important for the health of the Internet to ensure that the rights of trademark holders are fully taken into account in the development of any domain name management system. In the physical world, trademarks serve as sign posts for consumers seeking to purchase the goods or services in which they have confidence and trust. Trademarks as signposts are even more important in the ever expanding environment of the Internet. Therefore, the ISA believes strongly that considerable effort should be made to address the rights of trademark holders in the context of domain name administration. In order to ensure that the relationships built between consumers and established, trademarked brand names in the physical world will extend to the Internet, we submit the following recommendations.
To the extent that disputes between trademark and domain name holders can be resolved without recourse to litigation and before a disputed name is commercially used on the Internet, all parties benefit. The construct for the international administration of the Internet should include a process which heads off costly and time-consuming domain name disputes before they start. The ISA supports a 30 day waiting period for domain name registration during which the name would be published publicly for purposes for review by trademark holders with superior rights. Settling trademark disputes before the domain name in question is assigned will make the process less protracted and costly. The ISA suggests that in the event a domain name dispute occurs, the parties should be required to work out their differences in an online dispute resolution forum or other proceeding in a time period of no more than 90 days. The processes recommended above should be consistent throughout all of the domain name registries.
In addition, consumers have particular relationships with famous marks. Consumers are most likely to be disillusioned if these famous marks do not lead to the expected sites. Thus the owners of famous marks should be allowed to register their famous marks in all the generic Top Level Domains.
2. Private, Not-For-Profit Corporation -- With regard to the administration's proposal to establish "a private, not-for-profit corporation ("new corporation") to manage the coordinated" administrative functions of the domain name system, the ISA feels strongly that the new corporation should appropriately reflect of the needs and concerns of Internet users (i.e. consumers). We suggest that the administration provide for representation on the new corporation by a group which prioritizes the growth of the consumer Internet online marketplace. As an association comprised of responsible and consumer-focused Internet online companies, the ISA is particularly responsive to consumer needs and concerns and would welcome the opportunity to add such a balance to the new corporation's representation.
Until the new corporation is established and assumes existing functions held by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), the ISA recommends that the administration ensure that IANA is similarly responsive to consumer needs and concerns. At the very least, IANA should establish a convenient and efficient process through which consumers and the industry can voice their concerns and suggestions regarding domain name administration.
The ISA is confident that the potential for growth of the Internet online industry is enorrnous. We believe that by working with the administration, Congress and regulators we can meet the challenges presented by the growth of the medium. ISA's members and I are willing to assist you in any way possible to ensure that the tremendous work done on the domain name issue continues forward. Please do not hesitate to call on the ISA as a resource and an ally.
Jeff B. Richards