SUMMARY OF COMMENTS
Registration and Administration of Internet Domain Names
[Docket No. 97061337-7137-01]
The rapid growth and use of the Internet has led to increasing public
concern about the current system for registering and managing domain names,
the familiar and easy-to-remember names for Internet computers. In response,
various private sector groups have proposed systems for allocating and
managing generic top level domains (gTLDs).
The Government has in the past supported the privatization and commercialization
of the Internet and believes that this transition to private sector control
should continue. The Government is studying various private sector proposals
to establish systems to allocate and manage gTLDs on the Internet. In addition
to the various proposals, the government is studying the underlying issues
to determine what role, if any, it should play in management of
Internet domain name systems (DNS).
On July 2, 1997, the Department of Commerce issued a Request for Comments
on the Registration and Administration of Internet Domain Names in order
to ascertain the views of the public regarding various DNS management proposals
as well as the underlying policy issues.
The comment period closed on August 18, 1997, and we received over 430
comments. Comments have been reviewed and posted to the National Telecommunications
and Information Administration (NTIA) site on the World Wide Web. In addition,
the comments have been available for review in the public reading room
at the Department of Commerce.
This paper briefly summarizes comments submitted. The text from
the Request for Comments (RFC) issued July 2, 1997 appear in bold
type. Responses are summarized below the RFC text. This summary reflects
the tone and thrust of comments received generally, but is not intended
to summarize all comments received in their entirety.
A. Appropriate Principles
The Department of Commerce sought comment on the principles by which
it should evaluate proposals for the registration and administration of
Internet domain names. In general, respondents supported the proposed principles.
A number of commenters proposed revisions to the principles presented,
and some suggested additional principles. A small number of respondents
opposed or disagreed with one or all of the principles entirely.
a. Competition in and expansion of the domain name registration system
should be encouraged. Conflicting domains, systems, and registries should
not be permitted to jeopardize the interoperation of the Internet, however.
The addressing scheme should not prevent any user from connecting to any
The overwhelming majority of respondents agreed with this principle,
stressing that even as competition is introduced, DNS mechanisms should
remain stable, and that domain names must be universal and, ultimately,
portable. One organization suggested that while competition is long overdue,
change should be gradual and controlled. Others cautioned that the legal
rights of trademark holders should not be sacrificed for the sake of competition,
and that we should examine non-competitive systems where they have been
shown to work. Several respondents commented that competition at the "root"
level was not feasible.
b. The private sector, with input from governments, should develop
stable, consensus-based self-governing mechanisms for domain name registration
and management that adequately defines responsibilities and maintains accountability.
Most respondents agreed with this principle, although many noted that
the government had a role fostering private sector leadership. Some cautioned,
however, that the phrase "input from governments" was vague and
should be clarified or limited (e.g. to antitrust enforcement). The "private
sector" should be understood inclusively, to mean, in one respondent's
words, "the diversity of Internet communications providers and Internet
speakers." One commentator suggested that self-governance should be
approached through a system of multi-tiered contracts.
c. These self-governance mechanisms should recognize the inherently
global nature of the Internet and be able to evolve as necessary over time.
The principle of globalism received strong support. Many observed that
the Internet has grown from its U.S. roots into a global medium. The argued
that this transformation should be reflected in the internationalization
of the Internet's administrative bodies. Many commenters also believed
that the continued treatment of the Internet as a "U.S. asset"
could provoke a negative reaction from foreign governments and businesses.
One commentator noted, however, that the inherently global nature of the
Internet should not be used to justify an inadequate, closed, or rushed
decision making process.
d. The overall framework for accommodating competition should be
open, robust, efficient, and fair.
Most respondents supported this principle. One suggested that further
definition of "open, robust, efficient, and fair" was needed,
and others suggested that this principle was too broad to be particularly
e. The overall policy framework as well as name allocation and management
mechanisms should promote prompt, fair, and efficient resolution of conflicts,
including conflicts over proprietary rights.
Most commentators supported this proposal, although several noted that
some trademark disputes would be best resolved by courts applying traditional
f. A framework should be adopted as quickly as prudent consideration
of these issues permits.
Respondents expressed more concern about getting the "right"
answers than about moving quickly. Several stated that consensus achieved
through a democratic and open process is more important than speed. Nonetheless,
some respondents cautioned that prompt action may be needed to avoid fragmentation
of the Internet.
g. Additional principles.
Several respondents suggested additional principles:
-- Policymakers should consult widely with the representatives of affected
stakeholder groups and ensure that processes are inclusive and that creditable
views receive appropriate consideration. (CIX, Domain Names Rights Coalition,
-- Modifications to the registration and administration of gTLDs . .
. should be responsive to market forces. (CIX)
-- The name-space is a public resource. (EFF)
-- The namespace is a private resource subject to reasonable limits
developed and agreed to by the Internet community. (CIX, NSI)
-- International interoperability of DNS should be ensured. (CommerceNet)
-- The Internet must remain accessible as a communications medium and
to make information available to entities of all types and sizes. (CommerceNet,
Domain Names Rights Coalition, EFF)
-- The Administration of the name-space should provide for name portability.
-- Lack of consensus about intellectual property should not impede
progress in other areas. (EFF)
-- No government should reserve the right to pass laws or make policies
applicable to persons or resources not within its physical territory. (D.R.
B. General/Organizational Framework Issues
The government sought comment on general and organizational issues related
to the domain name system. Respondents frequently mentioned the global
nature of the Internet and the need to move from a US dominated position.
Proposed solutions often inferred a US government role in "fixing
it and keeping it fixed," however, supporting the notion that the
government has an important role to play in transitioning DNS from government
to private sector control.
1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of current domain name
Numerous respondents mentioned that the advantage of the current system
is that "it works" and, so far, government has not been intrusive.
One commenter asserted that support for the current system exists in some
measure simply because it is the only system that the commercial users
have ever known.
Respondents cited the lack of competition as the primary disadvantage
of the current system. This was most often identified as a problem by commenters,
who in some cases also questioned whether the current contractor, NSI,
adequately followed or enforced rules established by IANA in RFC 1591,
Domain Name System Structure and Delegation.
Respondents questioned the ability of the existing systems to meet expanding
use of the Internet, noting that while "the systems may have worked
well initially, they must be replaced with systems designed for the size
and complexity of today's and tomorrow's networks."
Respondents also cited the potential for trademark dispute as a significant
disadvantage of the current system. This group asserted that the current
system uses ineffective prescreening and dispute resolution mechanisms
that have resulting in widespread abuse of the system by domain name speculators
and trademark infringers who have easy, inexpensive access to the system
and can register virtually any domain name.
With respect to trademark issues, commenters also noted that it has
become increasingly difficult to select a domain name that is not already
in use by another business. Respondents noted that the current system consists,
more or less, of a single gTLD (i.e., .com), and suggested that the perceived
scarcity of "good names" might decrease if additional meaningful
gTLDs were available. Many of these respondents cautioned, however, that
this proposal should be carefully studied, as the risks associated with
the establishment of additional gTLDs may outweigh this particular disadvantage.
2. How might current domain name systems be improved?
Most respondents enthusiastically endorsed the introduction of competition
-- multiple registrars that share a common database -- to improve the current
DNS. Others suggested that additional non-discriminatory directory services
would reduce the importance of mnemonics and reduce, if not eliminate,
trademark issues. One respondent proposed the creation of a bottom-up web
of contracts to ensure stability and enforcement. Others cited the need
to improve security to minimize infiltrations of the systems and attacks
on root servers and other vulnerable network points.
Many respondents supported the creation of an alternative dispute resolution
process to mediate conflicts of all sorts. In this global environment,
such a solution was considered more appropriate than resolution by individual
courts of the relevant jurisdictions.
Commenters disagreed about the appropriate structure of DNS going forward.
Some stressed that top-level domains are a global public resource and must
be maintained as such. Others argued that generic TLDs are a private resource
for individual businesses to develop exclusively. Nonetheless, commenters
agreed that no single company should be allowed to monopolize domain name
registrations. Commenters that mentioned the IAHC proposal, more often
than not, supported it (but often for differing reasons).
A number of commenters stressed the importance of domain name portability.
The technical implications of this issue were not fully discussed and certainly
With respect to the future of existing gTLDs, administered under a cooperative
agreement between the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Network Solutions
Inc. (NSI), those who addressed the issue argued that the public should
retain ownership of the contents of the ''.com'' database and the software
that NSI wrote under the cooperative agreement. Some argued that the U.S.
government should extend its agreement with NSI, however, if a stable system
is not in place by April 1, 1998, when the cooperative agreement expires.
3. By what entity, entities, or types of entities should current
domain name systems be administered? What should the makeup of such an
The IAHC plan to revise the gTLD system received more support than not,
including, however, support from parties that were involved in drafting
the plan. The principles behind the plan received support from some individuals
and organizations such as the Coalition for Advertising Supported Information
and Entertainment (CASIE) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
Jon Postel said: ''I firmly believe that moving forward with the IAHC plan
(in the general sense) is in the best interest of the Internet community,
including the users, business, and the technical operation of the system.''
Respondents expressed some reservations about the details of the proposal,
but generally did not object to its fundamental principles.
Those who did object to the IAHC plan argued that it is an attempt to
improperly assert control over the Internet. The plan is an ''example of
bypassing traditional governance structures and the protections they provide
to smaller voices seeking to participate in policy debates,'' said one
Respondents identified the root domain database and the root domain
servers as the core of the domain name system. Because they are essential
to all Internet users worldwide, commenters urged that these elements of
the system be kept free of governmental and commercial pressures. The system
should be governed by a large cross-section of the industry itself, with
input from government. Commenters felt that the size and makeup of the
iPOC and any associated organizations must be designed to ensure that any
policies promulgated represent a true Internet community consensus. And,
the core database for use in assigning and prescreening all gTLDs should
be constructed and maintained by a central entity and shared on a real-time
4. Are there decision-making processes that can serve as models for
deciding on domain name registration systems (e.g., network numbering plan,
standard setting processes, spectrum allocation)? Are there private/public
sector administered models or regimes that can be used for domain name
registration (e.g., network numbering plan, standard setting processes,
Some said that the "Internet defies a conventional regulatory approach
and there are no existing models that are appropriate as a basis for a
new domain name registration system since the Internet is a unique medium."
Others said that existing technical standards setting processes offer
a potential model for the decision-making process because they are made
up of, or consider the input of, all parties with interest in setting a
Others encouraged international governmental cooperation to harmonize
the legal context within which the domain name registration process operates.
What is the proper role of national or international governmental/non-governmental organizations, if any, in national and international domain name registration systems?
Respondents overwhelmingly favored private sector governance of the
domain name system, and urged government to take a back seat in the registration
and administration of Internet domain names. Most respondents recommended
adoption of a self-regulatory, market driven approach to Internet governance.
This approach should be open and flexible, and representative of the Internet
community. All stakeholders must be consulted in any decision-making process.
Jon Postel also said: "[t]he role of government should be to foster
a fair system of self-governance for the Internet that embraces open competition
where possible on an international scale." David R. Johnson, chairman
of Counsel Connect and co-director of the Cyberspace Law Institute, called
on government to allow the marketplace to govern the Internet through a
bottom-up web of contracts. The U.S. government should make it clear that
attempts to set up this contractual regime themselves are not violations
of antitrust law, but "the proper role of governments is to enforce
such agreements unless they violate antitrust laws or other public policies."
Commenters had more varied and even contradictory attitudes toward the
role of international, inter-governmental organizations (IGOs), especially
the ITU. Some commenters expressed deep misgivings about IGOs taking a
leading role in Internet governance. Many commenters viewed organizations
like the ITU as unaccountable, unelected, and unlikely to consult with
the Internet community. Others criticized it as moving too slowly to address
rapidly developing Internet issues. The majority of non-profit groups and
corporations voiced either vague distrust of IGOs or highly qualified support.
It is clear that many commenters were concerned that IGOs might misuse
any power they might be granted.
Still, a sizeable minority of commenters, many of them individuals or
professionals familiar with IGOs, saw the United Nations and subsidiary
bodies such as the ITU as the appropriate organizations to assume control
over Internet governance. They tended to argue that international organizations
provide ready-made fora for reconciling competing national and commercial
interests. International organizations were also seen as exerting a useful
check on domination of Internet governance by the United States.
Should generic top level domains (gTLDs), (e.g., ".com"),
be retired from circulation? Should geographic or country codes (e.g.,
".us") be required? If so, what should happen to the .com registry?
Are gTLD management issues separable from questions about international
standards organization (ISO) country code domains?
Several commenters advocated expanded use of the ".us" domain.
Iperdome, Inc., suggested moving all existing gTLDs to a second level of
the .us domain. Others said that the use of country codes alone as top
level domains causes problems. First, an entity might not want to be associated
with a particular country. Also, root server operators would be expected
to decide what was a country. Finally, trademark owners would be forced
to monitor and protect their marks under each country code as well as under
Most respondents advised against retiring existing gTLDs. Retiring gTLDs
was thought likely to cause confusion and increase costs to registrants
associated with changing their domain names and suffering the loss of valuable
goodwill. "Little is to be gained, and much would be lost, by the
elimination of such domains," said one commenter.
Are there any technological solutions to current domain name registration
issues? Are there any issues concerning the relationship of registrars
and gTLDs with root servers?
Most respondents indicated that while there are no technical obstacles
to solving DNS problems, it is not really feasible to separate technological
and administrative solutions. Technology is needed, however, to
implement a competitive name registration system involving multiple registrars
in shared gTLDs. There was some disagreement about whether or not this
technology already exists.
There does not appear to be any need for substantial interaction between
the registrars and the root servers. Root server operators must, however,
work closely with the central policy organization that defines gTLDs
to ensure consistency. On the other hand, registrars must interact
with gTLD domain servers because they will have to rely on these servers
to pick up registration changes quickly and consistently. Most commenters
felt that the technology that currently handles core gTLD databases has
How can we ensure that scalability of the domain name system name
and address space as well as ensure that root servers continue to interoperate
Respondents generally felt that the present system allowed for enough
unique names to satisfy the physical needs associated with Internet growth.
The problem, however, is that the unlimited availability of unique
monikers does not satisfy vanity/marketing requirements that underlie growing
trademark disputes. Scaling problems in gTLDs arise from the perceived
need for every business to have its own second level domain name.
Some respondents suggested that registration of firms, rather than products,
at the second level would slow the growth in second level domains (e.g.
"Bayer.com" rather than "Aspirin.com.), but no commenter
identified an appropriate mechanism by which governments could influence
that strategy for gTLDs.
Others suggested that scaling problems could be reduced if domain names
were viewed and treated more like access numbers (e.g. a telephone number)
rather than source indicators in the nature of trademarks and trade names.
These respondents favored the development of robust directory services.
Respondents identified three essential elements of a coherent root server
system: a trusted single source for root domain data, trusted set of root
server operators, and effective, secure distribution of data to system
How should the transition to any new systems be accomplished?
Respondents agreed that new systems, based on forward-looking policies
and incorporating new frameworks and gTLDs, should be designed and implemented.
Once these systems are operational, existing domains should be moved to
the new systems as appropriate.
Are there any other issues that should be addressed in this area?
Respondents to this question voiced three themes: (1) NSI's proprietary
claims on the .com database should be challenged and ownership of the registration
database must be clarified on a going forward basis, (2) the business processes
must be documented more formally and openly than has been the case in the
past, and (3) unanswered questions regarding system finance must be addressed.
C. Creation of New gTLDs
10. & 11. Are there technical, practical, and/or policy considerations
that constrain the total number of different gTLDs that can be created?
Should additional gTLDs be created?
The comments evidenced extensive support from the technical community
for the addition of new gTLDs. The Internet Society and iPOC cited strong
public demand, and support for the iPOC proposal as an appropriate "first
step" in what should be a careful, incremental approach. EuroISPA
felt that the addition of new gTLDs will relieve pressure on the .com space.
Jon Postel proposed that new gTLDs should be added incrementally until
the total reaches about 200, to provide diversity and access to simple
domain names by holders of not-so-strong trademarks. The ISP's Consortium
urged an unlimited number of new TLDs, including, e.g., .ibm , so that
most of today's second level domains could become top level domains. Other
commenters similarly favored a large increase in the number of gTLDs.
Some prominent members of the business community expressly supported
the creation of new gTLDs in order to increase domain name capacity and
support the growth of the Internet and electronic commerce. Other business
leaders cited the increasing scarcity of new "natural identifiers"
in the .com space.
Several public interest groups also favored expansion of the top-level
namespace. Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility concluded that
new special-purpose gTLDs should be created to allow the use of identical
names in different gTLDs for different purposes. The Electronic Freedom
Foundation asserted that the additional of several new gTLDs would avoid
many trademark disputes. Both the Domain Name Rights Coalition and NetAction
supported a large increase in the number of gTLDs.
On the other hand, trademark owners for the most part weighed in against
the creation of new gTLDs. The International Trademark Association (INTA),
for example, argued that increasing the number of gTLDs would increase
policing burdens and would give bad actors more opportunities to infringe.
The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) urged that new gTLDs
should be allowed only after a cost/benefit analysis justifying their creation.
Prince plc. asserted that the creation of new general purpose gTLDs would
exacerbate trademark disputes.
Several prominent communications companies took the same position. BellSouth
argued that a proliferation of new gTLDs would confuse users, increase
opportunities for the selection of infringing domain names, and make it
harder for trademark owners to police their marks. British Telecom asserted
that the "unconstrained and unstructured" expansion of the number
of gTLDs would diminish the basic utility of the DNS and increase the risk
of cyber-piracy. Viacom opposed the creation of new gTLDs until "an
efficient means of protecting trademarks is developed." NSI stated
that an increase in the number of gTLDs could generate consumer confusion,
increase the number and cost of trademark disputes, and lead to speculative
12. Are there technical, business, and/or policy issues about guaranteeing
the scalability of the name space associated with increasing the number
13. Are gTLD management issues separable from questions about ISO
country code domains?
14. Are there any other issues that should be addressed in this area?
A substantial number of commenters addressed the type of new
gTLDs that might be created. CommerceNet suggested that the gTLDs should
be sufficiently distinct that there is only "ONE logical space for
a given company to inhabit as its trademarked domain name." Similarly,
AOL wrote "[w]hat is the difference between the intended use of .com
and .biz? Any new gTLDs that are created should be distinct enough in their
intended purpose to minimize the chance of confusion as well as the need
by name holders to register their domain in both TLDs. British Telecom
urged that any new gTLDs be limited to specific classes of businesses,
and strictly policed (e.g., .air for airlines), with qualifications to
be determined by IATA. EuroISPA urged that new gTLDs correspond to specific
industries or business areas.
CPSR found the concept of creating special-purpose gTLDs attractive
"from the perspective of both Internet users and commercial business,"
but expressed concern that the specific gTLDs developed by IAHC "raise
questions about global transparency and potential duplication and user
confusion." Some respondents suggested specific new gTLDs including
.pol (for political speech), .lib (for libraries), .sch (for elementary
and secondary schools), .pers (for personal speech), and .sba (for small
Several commenters urged that gTLDs should correspond to the categories
in an industrial classification system. AOL also suggested that any new
gTLDs should include trademark top level domains" (tTLDs) such as
.aol, .ibm, or .mci, "reserved for those global brand entities who
wish to enhance and protect their global brands in cyberspace."
CIX, while not opposing the creation of new gTLDs, suggests that we
can address the need for complementary business gTLDs by encouraging the
use of ".com.us" and perhaps by "cloning" .com (that
is, by allowing the use of ".com1", ".com2", etc.)
to mitigate the demands for the same namespace by companies with similar
D. Policies for Registrars
15. Should a gTLD registrar have exclusive control over a particular gTLD? Are there any technical limitations on using shared registries for some or all gTLDs? Can exclusive and non-exclusive gTLDs coexist?
Virtually no respondents favored a system in which domain name registrars
generally exercised exclusive control over gTLDs.
Most respondents indicated that, in general, registrars should not have exclusive control over a particular gTLD. These commentators believe that shared registries will protect consumers by promoting competition and enhancing choice. Some respondents noted that allowing exclusive gTLDs would create problems of "lock in" and high switching costs. Even in this group, however, commentators noted that there may be circumstances under which exclusive gTLDs are desirable. Several cited ".gov" as an example of an appropriate exclusive gTLD. (See, responses to Question 14, above.)
Another sizeable group of commentators favor a mixed shared/exclusive
system, noting that these distinctions can serve as a useful dimension
of competitive offerings, creating more choice for consumers. This group
favored allowing the market to determine the optimum mix of exclusive and
In general, respondents did not believe that technology would ultimately
limit creation of shared or mixed shared/exclusive registry systems. The
Commercial Internet Exchange Association (CIX), however, noted that as
the technology for shared registries doesn't yet exist, any transition
plan should assess technical obstacles realistically, and plan accordingly.
16. Should there be threshold requirements for domain name registrars,
and what responsibilities should such registrars have? Who will determine
these and how?
A majority of the respondents favored establishing threshold requirements
for registrars, citing the need for stability and consumer protection.
Suggested qualifications involved: technical skills; operations skills
and experience; and financial resources. AT&T suggested that registrars
be required to submit to the jurisdiction of a single, predetermined court,
and to post bond to satisfy judgments. Some suggested that registrars should
be required to escrow or somehow make their full databases available to
protect consumers in the event of insolvency or incompetence. A number
of respondents cited the IAHC requirements approvingly, although the Asia
& Pacific Internet Association (APAI) described them as "too U.S.-centric."
The iPOC itself cautioned that threshold qualifications should be kept
to a minimum in order to promote diversity and participation in the DNS
by developing countries.
A sizeable minority of respondents asserted that the marketplace should
determine whether and what requirements and responsibilities a domain name
registrar should have. Registrants, in this group's view, should be free,
after full disclosure, to deal with any registrar they choose. These commenters
appeared to assume a system in which the failure of one registrar would
not effect domain name registrants outside of the failed system.
Very few respondents commented on who should determine what qualifications
are necessary to become a registrar and how these qualifications should
be determined. Those who did respond generally referred to IANA or its
17. Are there technical limitations on the possible number of domain
Very few respondents thought that technology would limit the number
of registrars who could compete in the DNS system. Several noted, however,
that the existence of too many registrars could make the system more difficult
18. Are there technical, business and/or policy issues about the
name space raised by increasing the number of domain name registrars?
Respondents cited interconnectivity, interoperability, and operational
issues as three areas where issues might arise in connection with increasing
the number of domain name registrars. Other commentators stressed the need
to pay close attention to trademark dispute resolution. Finally, a few
respondents referenced consumer protection and pricing concerns. In general,
however, respondents felt that these issues could be resolved and did not
justify limiting the number of domain name registrars.
19. Should there be a limit on the number of different gTLDs a given
registrar can administer? Does this depend on whether the registrar has
exclusive or non-exclusive rights to the gTLD?
Most respondents felt that there is no need to limit the number of gTLDs
that a given registrar can administer at this time. Several cautioned,
however, that this issue should be revisited and the decision revised if
necessary as we gain experience. CIX proposed that policy development should
be deferred until we have more experience with permanent DNS structure
and the market for registration services. A few respondents suggested that
competition would be enhanced by limiting the number of gTLDs that a given
registrar can administer.
20. Are there any other issues that should be addressed in this area?
Respondents who answered question 20 were, for the most part, concerned
about intellectual property rights. A significant number of respondents
called for clarification on the extent to which a registrar has an intellectual
property right in the databases generated in the course of registration
activities. Most implied that claims to such intellectual property rights
should be rejected.
E. Trademark Issues
What trademark rights (e.g., registered trademarks, common law trademarks,
geographic indicators, etc.)vis-a-vis domain names?
The comments indicate general agreement that trademark rights (registered
and common law trademarks, trade names, business names, etc.) should be
protected. Commenters focused, however, on how domain names should be protected,
i.e., by national courts or some other types of dispute resolution mechanism.
All commenters agreed that the national courts should remain an option
for trademark protection, and indeed the technical community expressed
a preference that this should be the only forum for trademarks disputes.
A substantial portion of the technical community also believed that domain
names are merely addresses and do not have trademark implications. However,
trademark owners and attorneys indicated that they would prefer an additional
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism, such as the Administrative
Challenge Panel (ACP) process identified in the IAHC gTLD MOU or something
similar, for some kind of first level clearance to deal quickly with cyber-pirates.
22. Should some process of preliminary review of an application for registration of an IDN be required (to determine conflicts with trademarks, etc.)?
If so, what standard should be used? Who should conduct the preliminary
review? If conflict is found, what should happen next? Automatic referral
to dispute settlement?
There was general consensus among the commenters that there should be
no preliminary review process. First, such a review would add unwanted
delay to the registration process; second, most commenters did not want
the registrars to review applications on any substantive grounds; and finally
because the standards of review would be too difficult to establish and
Only a few respondents supported the institution of a waiting period
after the filing of an application but prior to registration so that disputes
could be resolved. However, because there are currently a fairly low number
of actual disputes, it appears that establishing a short period after registration,
during which a domain name could be suspended in the event of a conflict,
would be a less intrusive procedure. There has been no trademark conflict
with respect to the majority of domain names.
Please see the responses to Question 21 (above) with respect to the
issues of domain name/trademark conflict and the proper forum such conflicts.
Aside from a preliminary review, how should trademark rights be protected
on the Internet? What entities, if any, should resolve disputes? Are national
courts the only appropriate forum for such disputes? Is there a role for
national/international governments/nongovernmental organizations?
As stated above, there was consensus that national courts are one appropriate
forum for domain name/trademark disputes (the same mechanism that exists
currently). However, trademark owners and attorneys are concerned about
the serious jurisdictional issues of an Internet with international registrars,
as well as about cyber-pirates, and hence have supported ADR.
There was no consensus among the comments regarding the role of governments
or international governmental organizations. However, there did appear
to be consensus that if the Internet unravels, the U.S. government should
How can trademark conflicts be prevented? What informational resources
could reduce potential conflicts (database of information)? How should
the database be used?
There is general agreement that domain name/trademark conflicts cannot
be prevented in an international arena - but they can be minimized with
certain technological solutions. The commenters agreed that a searchable
domain name database with up-to-date contact information would certainly
be helpful for clearance purposes. There were also a few comments suggesting
that a worldwide trademark registration database would be helpful to deter
conflict, however it is generally agreed that such a database would be
too difficult to maintain.
There was no consensus on who should maintain a domain name database.
25. Should applicants be required to show a basis for a certain domain
name? If so, what information should be supplied? Who should evaluate the
information? On the basis of what criteria.
While there was general agreement among the commenters that reliable
contact information was necessary, there was little support for requiring
that an applicant demonstrate a basis for requesting a particular domain
name (e.g., the name was applicant's business or family name). Further,
there was no agreement regarding what basis information/evidence (family
name, corporate name, registered trademark certificate, certificate of
incorporation, etc.) should be submitted. However, many commenters pointed
out that requiring the registrar to assess such information was likely
to slow down the process and draw the registrar into needless litigation.
How would the number of gTLDs and the number of registrars affect
the number and cost of resolving domain name/trademark disputes?
Commenters generally agree that increasing the number of gTLDs would
also increase the number and cost of resolving domain name/trademark disputes.
There is a sizable contingent in the technical community who felt that
adding as many domain names as humanly possible would eliminate any trademark
There was no consensus concerning the effect of increasing the number
This question provoked responses concerning whether gTLDs should be
added, and there was a general consensus that registries should be shared,
especially the ".com" registry. In addition, there was considerable
support for cautiously and judiciously adding gTLDs in the beginning of
any new governance mechanism. There is concern for the stability of a system
employing new technology as well as a wariness of the new governance mechanisms
and the potential for a significant increase in domain name/trademark disputes.
27. Where are valid conflicting rights to a domain name, are there
any technical solutions?
There was no consensus regarding a technological solution to such a
situation, although several interesting ideas were submitted; using geographical
indicators; using directories or a pull-down menu; adding the goods or
services of each registrant into the domain name; using some international
classification system, etc.
Are there any other issues that need to be addressed?
With respect to trademark issues, some commenters expressed a desire
that the Internet domain name issue be kept within the U.S. until the many
major issues have been satisfactorily settled (major issues such as governance,
technology, dispute resolution, adding gTLDs, etc.
There is much that is not settled under the proposed plans for governance, and the public is justifiably concerned about the stability and reliability of the Internet environment in the wake of any new system of governance and new technologies for registries.