The Name of the Game

Josh Bourne ⬥ 16 January

In the domain name space, the rules coming out of ICANN are being set by a few constituencies at the expense of all online users. There is a perception that ICANN sets policies democratically and, to an extent, they do—ICANN’s constituencies often heavily impact policy. However, the kingdom of ICANN is disproportionately populated by representatives of the registrar and registry constituency, so policies tend to be decided in their favor. Members of this constituency walk a fine line so as not to lose credibility in the eyes of their customers, but we mustn’t forget they are in the business of generating fees from the registration of more domains.

As a result of these special interests at play in policy development, online trademark protection and enforcement costs are burying brand owners. These costs end up as a sort of “welfare” for registrars and registries.

With the current system such a mess, time and effort should be put towards correcting the space, yet instead it is being put towards expanding it. Policies continue to be pushed through without due diligence or the general support of the Internet community—last year’s decision to make new TLDs possible is a prime example of such a policy.

When the game itself is broken, you change the rules. We helped form CADNA to help change the game and create policy that will actually prevent and reduce online infringement.

Every once in a while, someone asks me how FairWinds’ and CADNA’s goals are compatible. The fact is that both FairWinds and CADNA look to impact the domain name space in a way that increases the safety and ease of navigation of the Internet. FairWinds was created to help its customers be more efficient and effective by understanding how customers use the Internet and look for brands online. By separating reality from exaggerated risk and speculative scenarios of the “bad things” that could happen, companies can be more focused and accomplish more with less.

There are too few brand owners correctly leveraging the domain sphere of dot-COMs and limited ccTLDs that actually attract visitors or are likely to cause harm if owned by another party. FairWinds looks to change that by working with brands to optimize holdings and focus their resources on the most productive investments. CADNA and its efforts to clean up the space are entirely in line with these goals.

As far as FairWinds is concerned, new TLDs will just be additional noise in an already crowded space; they will simply make the space larger and more confusing, without adding any real value. We have plenty of work to do in terms of helping the world’s leading brands get more out of their Web strategy through an enlightened, less-is-more mentality. Any policy that will inevitably result in more online abuse will siphon our clients’ time and budget away from more important investments, and that is of great concern to FairWinds. 

Tags: brand owners, CADNA, ccTLDs, domain name, dot-COMs, FairWinds, ICANN, internet community, online infringement, policy development, registrar constituency, registry constituency, TLDs, Web strategy

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