Auf Wiedersehen/Au Revoir/Arrivederci/A Revair

Josh Bourne ⬥ 6 March

I’m spending the remainder of my trip to Switzerland visiting some old and new friends with my colleague Katie Richards, who recently joined FairWinds full-time to head our operations in Europe. One of our last stops was in Geneva, where we got a great view of the impressive Jet d’Eau and the beautiful Lake Geneva (Lac Léman in French):

In our meetings, concerns about the enforceability of the domain name space constantly came up. People see infringement and scams growing at a rapid pace and find that the enforcement tools currently at their disposal are ineffective.

For those who believe that the UDRP provides adequate recourse for brand owners looking to reclaim domains, consider this: what if both the registrar and the registrant are in a country where the court systems are such that the odds are stacked against the Complainant? After all, it is not as if national courts are required to implement the UDRP according to a set rubric. Registrars are wise to this vulnerability of the UDRP and look to exploit it. A recent article in INTA Bulletin covered this very issue, quoting a speaker at an ICANN conference as saying:

[W]e have a very inventive registrar out of India that’s offering a service to domainers at the last traffic conference that says, look, I’m a registrar in India, I will incorporate you a registrant in India, and I will put all your domains in that registrant with our registrar, so that if anyone ever [files a] UDRP, even if they’re successful, the only court you can turn to or go to is the Indian court. And, by the way, I’ll even start that action for you, they claim, and I guarantee you it’ll take at least ten years to get through any Indian court. So you can continue to own and operate that domain for ten years, even if you lose a UDRP. (

The UDRP was created by ICANN, so the organization must add it to the list of things that it is obligated to address—the UDRP belongs right alongside issues such as registrar abuse, compliance, and unreliable Whois databases.

In my opinion, ICANN has not established effective remedies to deal with online abuse and has failed to implement sufficient regulation that would help prevent it.

This inability to properly stabilize and govern the existing space makes the fact that ICANN is currently working to expand the space to include a potentially unlimited number of new TLDs that much more baffling. If you were about to build an addition to your home, but the original home was in such disrepair that it might crash at any moment, what would your priority be? Consider this analogy as it applies to ICANN’s “house plans” to build not one, but hundreds of new additions to the domain name space before correcting the existing issues. This certainly gives cause to reevaluate the choices available to the Internet community in terms of having their concerns addressed and their needs met.

The stability and security of the Internet continues to be part of an ongoing conversation between brand owners across the globe, and I’m glad I had the chance to once again check in on international perspectives of the domain name space. And now, it’s time for me to go back to DC. Goodbye to my friends in Switzerland in the country’s four official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansch: auf wiedersehen, au revoir, arrivederci, and a revair! 

Tags: brand owners, domain names, enforcement, Europe, FairWinds, Geneva, ICANN, India, INTA, internet community, Internet governance, Jet d’Eau, Katie Richards, Lake Geneva, online infringement, Switzerland, TLDs, UDRP, Whois database

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