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New .WINE and .VIN Are Now Political Tools

The more I follow the .WINE & .VIN opera, the more I start to believe that the idea is either to kill both new gTLD applications to free space in Round 2 of the ICANN new gTLD program or make this subject a political tool “only” to increase Europe’s presence in ICANN decisions.

Flying high above the sky

If there still is a wish from the European Commission to help .WINE and .VIN to become the strongest identity European wines could ever have on Internet, I would like to understand why the situation is still blocked —

  1. There is a list of protected domains the ICANN CEO is trying to offer for protection: I have few doubts this one won’t go through;
  2. There is a protection mechanism that the EU is trying to have set-up but which seems to be part of the reason why the situation is blocked. The strange thing about this new measure is that there is one existing already and it is called the Trademark Clearinghouse: if a wine Geographical Indication is registered into this database AND the corresponding domain name(s) registered, then there is no lack of protection;
  3. ...the recent communication from Philippe Armand Martin, at the French AssemblĂ©e Nationale, says one thing: the fact that a possible decision relies on the next European Council dated November the 27th 2014 is a clear proof that the French Government understands nothing (or very few) about new gTLD procedures (and by the way, .COFFEE new gTLD was launched already). If the idea is to block .WINE and .VIN because, we—European (French ?)—“missed the train”, then I would suggest to consider: not building a new root but a complete new Internet Governed and by us with European rules, because thinking this council will change anything is a mistake. It is like thinking the WTO can affect this situation. This ever lasting situation shows again how inefficient and slow, we, European, can be. In his speech, I particularly like Jean-Louis Roumegas’s offer “to open a global discussion on this issue”.

As it is built, the ICANN new gTLD program offers no solution but to slow down the process. What the ICANN is doing participating in slowing down this process is already against its own rules: according to my understanding of the ICANN new gTLD applicant Guidebook (also called the “AGB”), this problem should have been solved a long time ago.

Whatever decision is taken in November the 27th, the ICANN Board does not have to approve it just to please European Member States and a few American Organizations who think wine GIs and/or their equivalent should be protected.

Someone will cry

There is still zero reason why both applications should not proceed: my understanding of the the ICANN CEO’s personal contribution to this issue is that ICANN will then have to face the reaction of both parties if it approves .WINE & .VIN or not. In both cases, someone will cry so who should that be: Donuts for investing so much time and money to find out that ICANN changes the rules again for the benefit of the European Commission (EC), or the European Commission for wasting so much time in trying to protect wine GIs and finding out in the end that very few was changed?

So what really is the problem then?

The real actual problem is that ICANN needs to find a solution to demonstrate that its methodology to apply for a domain name extension is finalized and can face a situation such as the .WINE one; AND it needs to please the party which thinks that it is being fooled. If I could almost agree that the methodology is finalized, I believe there is no solution to please the EC with its requests.

Note that it would help quite a lot if it was clear about what the EC wants and as for now, the negotiation between parties involved has not been made public.

What happens next

  1. .WINE and .VIN are a GO “as they are – If the ICANN Board says OK to .WINE and .VIN, no matter what the European Commission thinks, then the ICANN confirms its position as an American organization who does not really care about the rest of the world, no matter what Axelle Lemaire thinks.
  2. .WINE and .VIN are no GO – ICANN confirms that its methodology to apply for a new gTLD has a breach and I believe it then should have to answer Donuts on the reason why it blocked the company from succeeding after following the ICANN new gTLD applicant guidebook procedure.

A deadline please?

If no one, even ICANN, can give a dead line, the next step comes after the 27th and it is quite possible that the ICANN Board, sole entity to be able to say “yes” or “no”, says: “let’s give parties involved a little more time to find a solution. I personally hope this is not the answer but according to me, the ICANN wants to please the European Commission and avoid… a lawsuit.

My fear here is that the “no dead line situation” has been accepted by all parties and it looks like it is easier for ICANN to remain this way instead of taking the risk to act. Unfortunately and according the the AGB, there can’t be a Round 2 if this situation is not solved so let’s expect something to happen… someday.

By Jean Guillon, New gTLDs "only".

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