David Maher

David Maher

Joined on March 28, 2006
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David W. Maher was General Counsel Emeritus of Public Interest Registry until May 31, 2019. In September 2004 he became senior vice president for law and policy of Public Interest Registry (PIR). From 1999 until 2002, he served as vice president for public policy of the Internet Society. In 2002, he became a member of the founding board of PIR and served as chairman until August 2004.

Maher is a registered patent attorney with extensive experience in intellectual property, communications and entertainment law. He is admitted to the bar in New York, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Maher served for more than 20 years as general counsel to the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc. and was the recipient of the bureau’s Torch of Integrity Award in 1999. He was a director of the Bureau until 2015.

In 1996, as a well-regarded authority on Internet domain names, Maher was asked by the Internet Society to serve on the 11-member International Ad Hoc Committee (IAHC). In 1997, he became chairman of the Policy Oversight Committee, the successor to IAHC. The IAHC developed proposals that included, for the first time, provisions for expeditious resolution of disputes with cybersquatters. These proposals were later adopted by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and now form the nucleus of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), which provides a global system for resolving trademark/domain name disputes. Maher is a member of the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center Panel of Neutrals.

Maher currently serves as a member of the Advisory Council to the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. Maher is a cum laude graduate of Harvard College with a bachelor’s degree in classics (Latin), and he earned his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1959. He is a member of the American Law Institute and has lectured and written articles on the Internet, intellectual property and communications law.

Except where otherwise noted, all postings by David Maher on CircleID are licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Featured Blogs

The UDRP and Judicial Review

The courts of the United Kingdom have set themselves outside the mainstream of Internet consensus policies on trademark/domain name disputes. A U.K. court decision regarding the UDRP reflects an unfortunate tendency to overlook one of the fundamental principles of the UDRP, namely the opportunity to seek independent resolution of a trademark/domain name dispute by court proceedings. more

The Mission Has Already Crept

ICANN's mission, and the avoidance of "mission creep", is currently the subject of intense debate in the Internet community. Multiple cross-community working groups are dealing with the proposal by an agency of the United States government, NTIA, to give up the last vestiges of its control of the IANA function. Many of the new organizational structures under consideration purport to deal with ICANN's expanding mission. more

Accountability and Redress

In ICANN circles these days, accountability is the buzz word. Nearly everybody is talking about it. Generally everybody is in favor of it, but that's where the agreement ends. This paper urges action by ICANN to provide a means for redress of grievances as an essential element of accountability. I would like to review the ICM case (the delegation of the .xxx domain), and the role of ICANN's Independent Review Panel (the IRP). As you will recall, the ICANN Board had originally awarded .xxx to ICM, but in a subsequent reconsideration had reversed the award. more

ICANN - Dispenser of Internet Justice

The following is a paper presented as a keynote speech at Studienkreis 2013 in Pisa, Italy last week. ICANN is beginning to look more and more like a government. It assesses taxes, it has amassed an enormous treasury, it passes laws with international effect, and it has developed an ad hoc judiciary system to enforce its laws. This paper will take a look at that judiciary system and ICANN as dispenser of Internet justice. more

Problems With Defining Jurisdiction on the Internet

The term "jurisdiction" has various definitions in law, but for our purposes here we can say it is the power of some legal body to exercise its authority over a person or subject matter or territory. In the Internet today, it is territory that gives rise to many major issues. As in real estate, what matters in jurisdiction is "location, location, location". When the Internet and trademark rights began to intersect, it quickly became apparent that traditional concepts of the jurisdiction of courts and legislatures would be seriously strained by situations where a registrant in one country could use a registrar in a second country to register a domain name in yet a third country. more

Slippery Slope

Last week, I visited Budapest to deliver a speech at the ICANN Studienkreis, an annual conference where experts study and address some current issues relating to Internet governance. I discussed how the Internet is on a slippery slope. Starting with the legitimate concern over how to deal with cybersquatters, we have moved to an unreasonable focus on legal control of Internet content and the domain name system. more

ICANN and Its Responsibilities to the Global Public Interest

In 1998, the United States government might have taken a different path in asserting its control over the technical administration of the DNS. It might have asserted full U.S. governmental control, or it might have turned over the functions to an international body such as the International Telecommunications Union. Instead, it created a "private-public partnership", incorporated as a California "nonprofit public benefit corporation", with a charter giving the company a dual mission of quasi-governmental functions combined with responsibility for operational stability of the Internet. more

How Not to Develop Public Policy

Some of ICANN's current proceedings on the introduction of new generic top level domains (gTLDs) provide a case study on how not to develop public policy. In particular, the Rights Protection Mechanism proceedings, with serious implications for trademark owners, have followed a course that does not correspond to the ideal of ICANN's bottom-up, consensus-based processes for policy development. More importantly, these proceedings are effectively unilateral developments in international law without the benefit of treaties or international conventions. more

A Recap of the 36th ICANN Conference in Seoul, Korea

The recently completed ICANN Conference in Seoul, Korea will be remembered for a unique accomplishment -- the first definitive step towards the addition of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) to the Internet root... As the announcement states, the applicants, at this time, are limited to nations and territories; the first IDNs will be in country code top level domains (ccTLDs). The generic TLDs, (the gTLDs, e.g., .org, .com and .info) will have to wait for their opportunity to apply for IDNs... more

Working With ICANN’s IRT and Not Against is in Order

ICANN realized during the Mexico City public meeting that its draft proposals for new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) did not take sufficient account of the trademark problems that might arise if the new top level domains become havens for cybersquatters. ICANN sensibly asked the trademark and brand owners to propose rules and procedures that might address these problems... more

Mexico City Hosts an Eventful ICANN Meeting

The Mexico City ICANN Conference was more eventful than some of us had anticipated. Among the highlights was Paul Twomey's announcement that he is stepping down as President and CEO of ICANN effective on June 30... Before the Conference, ICANN had released the second draft of its Guidebook for new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs). It was not greeted with universal acclaim... more

Kentucky and the Gambling Domains

A recent law suit in Kentucky has attracted world-wide attention because it could create a very dangerous precedent – the application of local law to the domain name system and Internet web sites that are available globally... Even though the Kentucky case only involves Kentucky gambling laws, the dangerous precedent is that regimes around the world with oppressive local laws restricting speech or religion might attempt similar litigation. more

What’s Going on at ICANN in Cairo

Following up on the big decision at the Paris ICANN meeting in June to make new Top-Level Domains available, there's lots of activity at the ICANN conference in Cairo, Egypt this week. A few of the hot topics of discussion that we are following are the applications process for new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs), Registry/Registrar Cross Ownership, and restructuring of the ICANN Board. more

ICANN Auctioning New Top-Level Domains: Serving Public Interest or Its Own?

ICANN has recently published a number of updates to the implementation program for new gTLDs. One of these updates is a paper by ICANN's "auction design consultant PowerAuctions LLC". The document makes a case for an auction to be held for the "resolution of contention among competing new gTLD applicants for identical or similar strings." In other words, two (or more) applicants for ".bank", or applicants for ".bank" and ".banks."... more

Reporting To God

"GOD, at least in the West, is often represented as a man with a flowing beard and sandals. Users of the Internet might be forgiven for feeling that nature is imitating art — for if the Net does have a god he is probably Jon Postel" (The Economist, Feb. 1997) David W. Maher, Senior Vice President, Law and Policy of Public Interest Registry (PIR) offers his reminiscence of the early days of the Internet and attempts made to restructure the Domain Name System — an article he has entitled 'Reporting to God'. more

Topic Interests

DNSNew TLDsDomain NamesCybersecurityDomain ManagementCybercrimeICANNPolicy & RegulationInternet GovernanceRegistry ServicesLawUDRPMultilinguismBrand Protection

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Popular Posts

ICANN and Its Responsibilities to the Global Public Interest

Problems With Defining Jurisdiction on the Internet

Reporting To God

How Not to Develop Public Policy

What’s Going on at ICANN in Cairo