The domain industry got another black eye when Toyota.me became the highest priced .me domain sale, at over 90K.
In the next few years there may be hundreds of new extensions (gTLD’s) and each one will increase the trademark problem, unless some policy is adopted to head it off.
Trademark holders can apply for their domain during the sunrise period of a domain extension launch.
Sunrise period application are always priced substantially higher than regular registration during the land rush. For example .asia sunrise applications were $100 plus registration fee.
Trademark holders claim that the cost of applying during the sunrise period, for all of the various domain extensions is a financial burden to them, especially companies holding hundreds or thousands of trademarks.
WIPO decisions have consistently held that the failure of a trademark holder to apply for a domain does not permit others from using the domain.
On the other hand during sunrise periods registries have granted application for terms clearly not subject to being trademarked. I have seen applications during the sunrise period granted for terms like “fuck”, and “internet”.
Yesterday we posted about an ICANN report that found 40% of the domain granted during the sunrise period of .info were improper and eventually reversed, however there are still names that were never re-allocated some 6 years later.
Registries currently has no incentive to reject sunrise applications. They get there application fee either way, and its easier just to grant them, then to reject them.
Clearly the whole process is full of problems and abuses.
The sunrise period should not be allowed to afford people to obtain domains they have no right to.
Trademark holder should not be forced to spend substantial amounts on domains they are entitled to by law (and which no one else can use).
So here is our proposal.
From this point forward ICANN should require as part of any new gTLD or any new TLD application, that trademark holder be given their domain name(s) during the sunrise period.
Application fees for the sunrise period should be set high, $500 per, but fully refundable if the registry determines that the application for trademark is valid, but non-refundable if the registry determines that the application was bogus.
Here the benefits this proposal:
Trademark holders can protect their marks from abuse.
Registries will have a vested interest in throwing out bogus application thereby making these names available to the general public in the initial land rush, not 6 years later.
Registries will not profit from selling trademarked domains like the .me registry did with Toyota.me, coke.me, pepsi.me and dozens others.
The domain industry will look like it is taking steps to curtail the trademark problem heading off legislation down the line. At the current pace, trademark holders will continue to lobby congress telling them that the current system is unfair to them and abuses their intellictual property.
Once again if the industry does not clean up their problems, at some point, congress will.