Testimony of Michael
M. Roberts Before U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee
on Courts and Intellectual Property
Michael M. Roberts
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
U.S. House of Representatives
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
I welcome the opportunity to appear here today to discuss the activities of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) regarding the relationship between Internet domain names and intellectual property rights.
ICANN is the non-profit, private sector corporation formed by a broad coalition of the Internets business, technical, and academic communities in October 1998 in response to the invitation of the U.S. Government in its Statement of Policy on Management of Internet Names and Addresses, 63 Fed. Reg. 31741 (June 10, 1998), usually known as the "White Paper." ICANN has been designated by the Government to serve as the global consensus entity to which it is transferring responsibility for coordinating the assignment of Internet protocol parameters, the management of the domain-name system, the allocation of the IP address space, and the management of the Internet root server system.
Recognizing the large number of witnesses appearing today, I will devote my presentation to a concise report on the status of ICANNs consideration and treatment of intellectual property rights in connection with the domain-name system. As noted above, the White Paper contemplated that ICANN would assume responsibility for four Internet coordination functions. One of those functions involves overseeing operation of the domain-name system.
As the White Paper recognized, the increasing commercial use of the Internet has given rise to increasing conflicts between the domain-name system and intellectual property. To help resolve this "trademark dilemma," the White Paper envisioned that "the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) would initiate a balanced and transparent process, which includes trademark holders and members of the Internet community who are not trademark holders," to recommend procedures for minimizing problems between the trademark and domain-name systems. 63 Fed. Reg. at 31747. Accordingly, in the White Paper the U.S. Government stated its intent to "[a]sk WIPO to convene an international process including individuals from the private sector and government to develop a set of recommendations for trademark/domain name dispute resolutions and other issues to be presented to the Interim [ICANN] Board for its consideration as soon as possible . . . ." 63 Fed. Reg. at 31751.
Following this request, in late 1998 and early 1999 WIPO conducted an extensive process to gather comments from interested parties and, on April 30, 1999, WIPO submitted its Final Report to the ICANN Board containing recommendations in the following areas:
ICANN began consideration of the WIPO Final Report at its quarterly meeting on May 26-27, 1999. At that meeting, the ICANN Board responded to the WIPO Report in the following manner:
Since the quarterly ICANN meeting in May, the DNSO has been working diligently on the dispute-resolution issues. A working group has issued a report, which is being considered by the DNSO Names Council. Two of the other witnesses at this hearing are members of the Names Council, and can provide you details on those proceedings. The ICANN Board looks forward to receiving the DNSO report on dispute resolution in the near future, so that it may be considered at the ICANN Board meeting at the end of August.
I thank the Committee for the opportunity to present this report, and look forward to answering any questions you might have.
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