Wednesday 7 March 2012

Finance industry must find its own gTLD solutions, says ICANN

"No special treatment for financial industry over ‘.bank’ and ‘.fin’ gTLDs" is the title of Trevor Little's World Trademark Review blogpost today. Trevor writes, in relevant part:
" ... the European Banking Authority (EBA) recently urged ICANN to discontinue the availability of the ‘.bank’ and ‘.fin’ gTLDs. In response, ICANN has highlighted existing dispute resolution mechanisms, recommending that the EBA work with any potential applicants once these are made public.

In a letter to ICANN dated February 20 2012, Andrea Enria, chair of the EBA, urged that the potential availability of the ‘.bank’ and ‘.fin’ gTLDs for applicants be withdrawn, based on concern that these strings would be susceptible to “misuse by unscrupulous individuals”.

In addition to a potential rise in fraudulent and phishing activities at the second level, Enria also pointed to the subsequent need for legitimate financial institutions to “establish costly and complex legal or commercial initiatives in order to safeguard their trademarks from frauds and abuses”.

It has been reported that one applicant for the ‘.bank’ gTLD, BITS, stated that only financial services companies would be allowed to register domain names at the ‘.bank’ second level if its application if successful. However, at present it is not known who else may have bid for the TLD, hence the fear that a less discerning entity may prevail.  ... 
... in the formal response to the EBA, seen today by WTR, ICANN’s chief operating officer Akram Atallah has stressed that the EBA should consider the objection processes currently in place in the gTLD programme, encouraging it to both “actively monitor the ICANN website [once applications are made public] and consider what actions to take, as appropriate” and “to work closely with any known potential applicants for ‘.bank’ or ‘.fin’ to address any issues/concerns with regards the use of these particular strings”. ...".
This is not merely a trade mark matter.  The innovative side of the SME sector, which has a perennial need for funds and often struggles to find adequate backing and investment in new products which have no guarantee of success, is particularly vulnerable to the sort of frauds and unscrupulous activity that the EBA cites.  Regulation and effective processes for monitoring are all very well, but legitimate traders and finance companies have no monopoly on innovation and those who seek to abuse the new gTLD system have every incentive to do so.

No comments: