ICANN Ombudsman Blog

December 12, 2012

Trademark Clearinghouse

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chris LaHatte @ 3:06 pm

I have received a complaint about the process used in the recent Trademark Clearinghouse meetings where decisions were made on the way forward. The complaint in summary says that the decisions were made without full consultation from some contituencies. I have of course not formed any view on this, and need input from people who participated and were pleased with the process, or from others who feel they were excluded. Such submissions can be made to me at ombudsman@icann.org, or on this blog. as comments.

1 Comment »

  1. Chris, thanks for posting this for public notice/comment. While one may applaud Fadi for his willingness to identify urgent priorities and “close the loop” on outstanding matters critical to the new gTLD program, there are procedural and substantive problems with this particular form of proceeding. Procedurally, it is curious that (1) neither meeting was announced; (2) they were invitation-only and (to my knowledge) not recorded, nor was remote participation made widely available; (3) who was invited, and who attended, was not disclosed; and (4) the timing and location of both meetings meant that many of those with strong public interest concerns but without direct “skin in the game” (e.g. paying clients or employers for whom the new gTLD program is important) simply could not attend in person (even if invited.) Were such a meeting to be justifiable, a public announcement/invitation for either in-person or remote participation (possibly limited in numbers corresponding to the stakeholder groups to aid efficiency) would have gone some way toward alleviating public anxiety. To the extent there was a need to NOT record the meetings, the reasons ought to be stated and perhaps transcripts – with appropriate redactions – provided.

    Substantively, the meetings were billed as “TM Clearinghoues implementation issues”; given the recent Deloitte-IBM appointment many assumed these meant technical details for the most part. Even if one were to set aside the “policy vs. implementation” issue, there is absolutely no justification for re-opening topics considered closed by the community, which has nothing to do with implementing the TMCH as designed. I refer, for instance, to the fact that in the recent “strawman” proposal, there is now a possibility that the “identical match” test for a TM Claims Notice may now be expanded to include variants. Surely an implementation meeting should focus on how to implement an “identical match” standard, and not turn into whether that agreed-upon (and much-debated) standard ought to or can be changed.

    In short, and possibly regardless of the actual motivation for or outcome of these meetings, the fact that they were held and, more particularly, how they were conducted, naturally gives rise to some concern on the part of the rest of the ICANN community – especially those who have limited means or connections within “ICANN-land” but who are deeply concerned about many of the issues worked on by the GNSO and other groups – as to their ability to meaningfully participate in ICANN policy development and decision making.

    Mary Wong

    Comment by Mary Wong — December 14, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

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