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A Financial Back-Up to Win .WINE?

Still want to protect wine Geographical Indications (GIs)? A hot potato! Where the bucket ends is still to be found and the launching of both .WINE and .VIN new gTLDs is still an issue. At least some of the three applicants are following the ICANN new gTLD applicant guidebook, working with parties interested in bringing better protection mechanism to protect wine GIs. There seems to have been an attempt which has not worked: meetings between applicants and wine institutions, with the European commission, and ... with the (useless) GAC. The result, has only made one thing possible: waste everyone’s time and .WINE (and .VIN) new domain names still not yet available at GoDaddy.

What is the situation now?

In its last commuiqué dated 25 June 2014, the GAC said nothing more than: “There was further discussion on the issue of .wine/.vin, but no agreement was reached because of the sensitive nature of the matter. The matter of .wine and .vin was raised at the High Level Governmental Meeting, where some members expressed concerns in terms of ICANN’s accountability and public policy. These concerns are not shared by all members.”

In a letter dated 22 June 2014, Stephen D. Crocker (Chair, ICANN Board of Directors) wrote: “ICANN has continued with the processing of the .VIN and .WINE applications. Of course, should the GAC be in a position to provide any additional advice on this issue, we would welcome it. Similarly, should governments succeed in resolving these issues in other global trade fora such as the WTO, that, too, will be taken into account”.

If the GAC does not say much, the ICANN says three things:

  1. The delegation procedure for .WINE and .VIN continues;
  2. Whatever the GAC comes with, it will make us happy;
  3. If the WTO can do better than the GAC, we will listen to it.

There are still no dates provided and no one knows what the next step is going to be. My understanding is: let time kill the problem and if it does not, the problem will be passed on to the next guy with enough b _ l _ s to make a decision.

Could money be the solution?

What would happen if an applicant were to receive a financial back-up to go to auction and win it. In exchange of this financial back-up, it would protect wine Geographical Indications according to a solution provided by parties affected by this issue?

What if Project dotVinum were to enter the game with a €5 million financial back-up, to help the best applicant win the auction (in a private auction or an ICANN sponsored auction):

  • Would 5 million be enough?
  • Would applicants be interested in that type of solution?
  • Which of the different applicants might be interested:
    1. Donuts? They applied for both .VIN and .WINE new gTLDs.
    2. Famous Four Media? They applied for .WINE only but they created the .WINE Governance Council to provide a voice to the Internet community, interested in the .Wine generic top level domain.
    3. Afilias? They applied for .WINE
    4. What would the GAC think of such an announcement?
    5. How would non interested applicant(s) react?
    6. Would Axelle Lemaire help France associate come up with that solution?
    7. What would Neelie Kroes think of such a way to solve the problem… if it worked?
    8. Would such a solution be right enough to please everyone?

If the situation really looks as stuck as it is, the guarantee to win the .WINE new gTLD application in an auction is certainly an offer no applicant could reject, in particular if the financial backup came with an agreement that might be accepted by all the parties concerned.

In French we say : “je dis ça, je dis rien”.

By Jean Guillon, New gTLDs "only".

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