2015-06-19

IANA Transition: IANA Trademark and Domain Name Controversy Erupts

"What's in a name? 
That which we call a rose
By any other name 
would smell as sweet."

 IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) meeting agenda, Friday, June 19, 2015, Buenos Aires
The IANA Stewardship Transition process, convened by ICANN pursuant to the NTIA's March, 2014, announcement, has involved three ICANN "communities"--Names (CWG-Stewardship), Numbers (RIRs a/k/a CRISP), and Protocols (IETF a/k/a IANAPLAN)-- each coming up with their own IANA Transition proposal and submitting it to the  IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) which will "deliver a proposal to the NTIA recommending a transition plan of NTIA’s stewardship of IANA functions to the Internet community, consistent with the key principles outlined in the NTIA March 14 announcement" according to the ICG website.

Pursuant to the ICG meeting June 18-19, 2015, in Buenos Aires (Friday agenda above), ICG co-chair Alissa Cooper, who is also a member of the IETF (Protocols) community, sent the following email to the CWG-Stewardship (emphasis added):

Alissa Cooper to cwg-stewardship:
Dear CWG,
The CWG transition proposal suggests that "ICANN will grants [sic] PTI an exclusive, royalty-free, fully-paid, worldwide license to use the IANA trademark and all related trademarks in connection with PTI's activities under the ICANN-PTI Contract." [1] Our understanding is that this text was not a product of full CWG deliberation and consensus and is flagged as subject to further negotiations.

During the ICG face-to-face meeting #5 on June 18 this text was identified as causing an incompatibility between the three operational community proposals. Both the IETF and RIR communities have been using and continue to use the term "IANA." For instance, the term has been cited in 3,353 RFCs over several decades. The CWG’s proposal for ICANN to grant an exclusive license may not be compatible with all three communities making continued use of the term.

Second, the RIR community has specified in its proposal that the IANA trademark and domain name [2] should be transferred to an entity independent of any IANA Numbering Services Operator. In February 2015, the ICG asked the RIR and IETF communities to report if their proposals can be made compatible in this regard. After discussion these communities reported back that there was no fundamental discrepancy. [3, 4] The IETF Trust also indicated its willingness to hold intellectual property rights relating to the IANA functions and the IETF community expressed its willingness to support such a decision. [3]

Finally, the current text discusses only the trademarks and not the iana.org domain name. Thus it is unclear whether the CWG proposal text is meant to extend to the domain name as well.

The ICG has identified this topic as something that requires coordination between the communities. The ICG would like to request that in completing its proposal the CWG review the proposals from the protocol parameters and numbers communities, determine if it can adopt an approach taken by those communities, and if not, work together with the protocol parameters and numbers communities to reconcile the incompatibilities that have been identified. The ICG requests that the CWG communicate back to us a proposed resolution to this issue by July 2 at 23:59 UTC.
Thank you,
Alissa, Patrik and Mohamed on behalf of the ICG

[1] CWG Stewardship proposal, Annex S, page 132
[2] Numbers community proposal, page 10: "With regards to the IANA trademark and the IANA.ORG domain, it is the expectation of the Internet Number Community that both are associated with the IANA Numbering Services and not with a particular IANA Numbering Services Operator. Identifying an organization that is not the IANA Numbering Services Operator and which will permanently hold these assets will facilitate a smooth transition should another operator (or operators) be selected in the future. It is the preference of the Internet Number Community that the IANA trademark and the IANA.ORG domain name be transferred to an entity independent of the IANA Numbering Services Operator, in order to ensure that these assets are used in a non-discriminatory manner for the benefit of the entire community. From the Internet Number Community's perspective, the IETF Trust would be an acceptable candidate for this role.
The transfer of the IANA trademark and IANA.ORG domain to the IETF Trust will require additional coordination with the other affected communities of the IANA Services, namely, protocol parameters and names. It is the preference of the Internet Number Community that all relevant parties agree to these expectations as part of the transition."
[3] http://mm.icann.org/pipermail/internal-cg/2015-February/003103.html
[4] http://mm.icann.org/pipermail/internal-cg/2015-February/003105.html


Initial analysis and  background note:

[Disclosure: information and analysis provided by the Editor of Domain Mondo, John Poole, who was also an observer of the CWG-Stewardship (observers are called "participants" in the CWG-Stewardship, as they are allowed to have a "voice" in the proceedings, but no "vote" in the consensus decision-making).]

Interestingly, the members of the ICG, and specifically, Co-Chair Cooper, who also attended CWG-Stewardship meetings and received all emails posted on the CWG-Stewardship mail list, failed to note that the RIR community's IANA trademark and domain name proposal to transfer the IANA trademarks and domain name to the IETF Trust, was first flagged as a problem by CWG-Stewardship member Greg Shatan, intellectual property attorney, and President of the ICANN IPC (Intellectual Property Constituency), on February 23, 2015. Domain Mondo's next post will provide further background information and analysis of this issue, why its resolution is important, not only for ICANN and its "communities," but also for domain name registrants, trademark holders, and the global multistakeholder community, also known as the global Internet community.

Domain Mondo UPDATE: ICANN Board and CWG address IANA Trademarks and Domain Name


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