IN ORDER TO FORM A MORE PRIVILEGED OLIGARCHY


Last fall I published "CyberHQ - THE NEW IMPERIALISM," writing in part,

"We now face a coup, 21st century-style imperialism: quite literally, a corporate sponsored government takeover. It turns the cyberspace territory as we've known it, into CyberHQ - cyber corporate headquarters. Attacking on two fronts, the global trademark lobby is bulldozing its supremacy agenda through ICANN, an eager participant, and the U.S. Congress, itself no stranger to "bending over" for corporate cause ...

... The year is 2002, and the century's first great war is over. The corporate sponsored takeover of Joe Q. Netizen's "unclaimed" territories and trade routes is complete. The dust is settling over a shiny new global corporate-centric, trademark supremacist internet landscape.

Welcome - if you're among the privileged few - to CyberHQ."

Boy, was I wrong. CyberHQ is here, alright, but its here now - barely six months into Y2K. Racing past U.S. borders at cyberspeed, the Trademark Lobby is attacking on multiple fronts, packing hurricane force.

Today the governments of the United States of America, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, and France asked the WIPO - the World Intellectual Property Organization - Big Business -- CyberHQ! -- to develop a set of policies aimed at wiping out cybersquatting.

Here it is, folks: government by and for corporate interests.

ICANN's UDRP, it seems, is ineffective for non-U.S. companies because it doesn't apply to country domain names under the jurisdiction of local registries -- registries, you'll remember, that are reticent to cede to ICANN's leadership or pay its fees.

So the idea is for WIPO to draw up guidelines and policies that governments can adopt in any intellectual property laws they need to update "for the Internet age."

(I can see it now ... "We the Trademark Owners of the World", they gleefully draft, "in Order to form a more Privileged Oligarchy, establish Internet Ownership, insure Global Enforcement, provide for the Common Confusion, promote the General Ignorance and Apathy, and secure the Blessings of Regulated Entitlement to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Trademark Owners of World. ... or we'll bankrupt and wreck havoc on your databases ...) 

Laying the foundation for enforcement, last week in "QUESTIONS OF JURISDICTION IN DOMAIN DISPUTES," I reported on a proposed Hague Convention to determine the rules for collecting private judgments across borders, including those pertaining to trademarks. Note that the U.S. vote *against* language in Article 7 of the proposed convention that would permit consumers to always sue in their country of residence.

The U.S. State Department is instead, in favor of the business proposal that you could be forced to waive that right, as a condition of doing business.

(... chip, chip, chip -- the persistent sound of your rights wearing away ... )

Had enough? Me too, but I'm not done... The Intellectual Property Constituency of ICANN (IPC - ICANN's WIPO contingent) has drafted its response to ICANN's call for comments regarding the introduction of new top-level domains, morphing Sunrise + 20 into "Daybreak." (... never a shortage of wordsmiths, PR always at the ready ...)

The basis of the IPC's position revolves around regulating preferential treatment for trademark owners, with policing and enforcement of non-trademark owner domain name activity at the registrar and registry levels.

Under the Daybreak plan, owners of trademarks and service marks would be able to register their precise marks as domain names on a first-come-first-serve basis in a new, commercial top-level domain before that new domain is opened to the general public. But the marks would have to be registered in a national trademark office for at least one year. [Nice anticompetitive exclusion of smaller state, and newer federal trademarks. Are you taking notes?]

Plus, with all the fervor of religious zealots, the IPC demands that ICANN not accept registry proposals from any companies with a "known cybersquatter" as an officer.

There has been talk, in the Afternic forums, of lobbying. The talent and expertise is there, if you guys only listen. Whatever it takes, domain name owners need a politic-savvy constituency in the WIPO, and in ICANN; and a permanent lobby at the State Department and on the Hill.

"... The year is 2000, and the century's first great war is in full gear. The corporate sponsored takeover of Joe Q. Netizen's "unclaimed" territories and trade routes is nearing completion. The dust is settling over a shiny new global corporate-centric, trademark supremacist internet landscape.

Welcome - if you're among the privileged few - to CyberHQ."

Judith Oppenheimer is a noted toll free number and domain name expert; president of http://1800TheExpert.com, and publisher of http://ICBTollFree.com. Copyright (c) 2000 ICB, Inc. All rights reserved.