By Cyrus Namazi
Vice President, Domain Name Services
ICANN Global Domains Division
In recent weeks, debate has swirled around the proposed introduction of the .WINE and .VIN generic top-level domain names (gTLDs).
In an effort to engage concerned parties and attempt to build consensus, ICANN has sought and received input from multiple stakeholders, including via correspondence from governments and trade organizations as well as advice from the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), whose key role is to provide advice to ICANN on issues of public policy, especially where there may be an interaction between ICANN’s activities or policies and national laws or international agreements.
In correspondence, various governments and trade organizations have expressed divergent views on whether existing new gTLD safeguards are appropriate and sufficient to address potential misuse of geographic indicators for wine or whether additional safeguards are advisable.
The GAC advised the ICANN Board in September 2013 that it had finalized its consideration of the strings .WINE and .VIN., that there was no GAC consensus advice on additional safeguards for .WINE and .VIN, and that the applications for .WINE and .VIN should proceed through the normal evaluation process.
Additionally, in its Buenos Aires Communiqué in November 2013, the GAC suggested that the ICANN Board might wish to seek a clear understanding of the legally complex and politically sensitive background on its advice regarding .WINE and .VIN to consider the appropriate next steps of delegating the two strings. In response, the New gTLD Program Committee (NGPC) commissioned an analysis [PDF, 771 KB] of the issues regarding .WINE and .VIN. That expert analysis concluded that with regard to the applications for the new gTLDs .VIN and .WINE, “there is no rule of the law of geographical indications, nor any general principle which obliges ICANN to reject the applications or accept the applications under certain specific conditions.”
In March 2014, after considering differing multistakeholder input, including the GAC advice, the expert analysis commissioned by the NGPC and correspondence submitted by various parties, the NGPC accepted the GAC advice, and directed that the applications for .WINE and .VIN should proceed through the normal new gTLD evaluation process.
During the ICANN Buenos Aires meeting, one of the applicants for .WINE and .VIN met with representatives of European wine producers in an effort to better understand each other’s respective positions. In its Singapore Communiqué, the GAC advised that some GAC members believed “the applicants and interested parties should be encouraged to continue their negotiations with a view to reach an agreement on the matter.” In response, the NGPC accepted that GAC advice and directed ICANN Staff not to commence the contracting process for the applications for .WINE and .VIN for 60 days. That 60-day hold period, which expires June 3, 2014, was implemented by the NGPC to “provide additional time for the relevant impacted parties to negotiate, which they are encouraged to do.”
ICANN encourages all interested parties to use the 60-day hold period to continue to negotiate and seek common ground and hopes that these efforts will result in improved outcomes to all parties.