Access To WHOIS Information To Be Restricted?

A story on law.com today states that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which controls the registries for domain names with the popular .com, .net and .org top level domain extensions, will likely be voting in September on a proposal to limit the public availability of WHOIS information. This proposal has sparked a battle between trademark owners and their legal representatives on the one hand, who favour more disclosure, and privacy advocates on the other, who favour less disclosure.

The ICANN council is considering three options: Continue to let domain name owners’ personal, technical and administrative contact information be viewed by all Internet users; display only the name and country of an owner and allow that person or entity to designate additional information for a point of contact; or keep the current system and allow owners to cloak contact information only if there’s a risk to a registrant’s personal safety.

 See our post of February 27, 2007 for details on the status of the proposal to restrict public access to WHOIS information of registrants of .ca domain names.

UDRP Decisions UP, CDRP Decisions Down

The National Arbitration Forum (NAF), a leading dispute resolution service provider for domain name disputes, reports that the number of dispute resolution proceedings it handled involving domain names rose significantly in 2006, with a 21% increase over the number of disputes that it handled in 2005. The majority of cases involved domain names with the popular .com, .net, .org top level domains, which are handled under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).

Contrast that with the situation in Canada, where the number of CDRP (Canadian Internet Registration Authority Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy) decisions in 2006 handled by all dispute resolution service providers involving the .ca country code top level domain actually fell from the number of such decisions in 2005, despite the continuing and increasing growth in the number of .ca domain name registrations.

Keep in mind that NAF also handles disputes over other less popular top level domains, such as .biz, .info, .pro and .mobi, as well as a number of country code domains, including .us, .tv and .cc (but not .ca domain names), which may account for some of its increased activity, however the bulk of its work continues to be disputes under the UDRP.

Update on CIRA’s new WHOIS Policy

From the Minutes of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) Board of Directors Meeting held January 30, 2007:

“6. Update on WHOIS

K. von Arx updated the Board of Directors on the WHOIS implementation plan noting that staff had finalized the amendments and additions to CIRA’s Policies, Rules and Procedures necessary to implement the WHOIS privacy protections for individual Registrants. The technical implementation of the WHOIS, namely ceasing to display personal information of individual Registrants in the WHOIS, cannot proceed until the technical staff has time to analyze the amount of work required. The analysis will be prepared by March 2007 once the Membership Authentication project and changes to the Election software are completed.” 

See our posting of August 22, 2006 which discusses the proposed changes to CIRA’s WHOIS policy and the implications of those changes. From the above Board minutes, it sounds like this will become reality in the next few months.

Creating an Effective Brand

Vitamin.com posted an interesting article by Mike McDerment of freshbooks.com on how to create an effective brand.

One thing the article didn’t deal with, however, was the role of trademark due diligence in the brand creation process. Before committing to any new brand, appropriate clearance searches should be conducted. The best new brand in the world may not be of much use if it’s infringing on the rights of a competitor – at the very least, the cost of launching the brand could go up significantly – Apple’s launch of its iPhone brand is a classic example. Apple is fortunate enough to have the legal budget to fight those battles. Many businesses don’t.

iPhone Trademark Dispute Goes Canadian

In an update to our January 11, 2007 posting on Apple Computer Inc.’s troubles with it’s proposed iPhone trademark in the U.S. and Canada, Toronto based Comwave Telecom Inc. is continuing with it’s opposition to Apple’s application to register the iPhone mark in Canada on a proposed use basis. Even though Comwave filed its application to register the mark in Canada after Apple did, Comwave claims to have used its iPhone mark in Canada since 2000 in association with local and long distance telephone services and VoIP telephone services. Under Canadian trademark law, it appears to have the upper hand if it can prove its prior use claims.  

Comwave is also threatening to go after Cisco for promoting its iPhone products in Canada. However, if Cisco’s claims are true that it has no sales of those products in Canada at this time, Comwave’s threats appear to be more of a shot over the bow.

Glen Breton vs. Scotch Whisky – Round 1

In a follow up to our posting of December 20, 2006, the Trade-marks Opposition Board has now sided with the Nova Scotia distiller of GLEN BRETON whisky.  In the Opposition Board’s view, members of the public who purchase GLEN BRETON whisky will not be confused into thinking that they are buying Scotch Whisky.  The Scotch Whisky Association has indicated that it will appeal the decision to the Federal Court, so stay tuned for Round 2.

iPhone Gets Its First Busy Signal

It didn’t take long for Cisco Systems to take a run at Apple, Inc.’s newly unveiled iPhone. Cisco owns a U.S. Trademark Registration for IPHONE in association with “computer hardware and software for providing integrated telephone communication with computerized global information networks”. Cisco has filed a lawsuit against Apple in the U.S. alleging trademark infringement among other things. Cisco alleges that up to the night before Apple’s introduction of the iPhone on Tuesday of this week at Macworld Expo, Apple and Cisco were negotiating the terms of an agreement that would have permitted Apple to use the mark.

There appear to be other entities using the iPhone mark for VoIP services, some of which have also filed applications to register the mark in association with such services. Cisco, in its lawsuit, alleges that Apple is applying to register the iPhone mark in the U.S. via a related or alter ego company called Ocean Telecom Services LLC. of 2004 on a proposed use basis.

Apple filed an application to register the mark iPhone in Canada in October of 2004 on a proposed use basis. That application is currently being opposed by Comwave Telecom Inc. Comwave  filed its own application for the mark iPhone in Canada, claiming use of that mark in Canada since June of 2004 for use in association with VoIP services.