RealTime IT News

Professor Criticizes WIPO Domain Proposal

A University of Miami law professor is calling on Internet users to read and comment on the World Intellectual Property Organization's recently released proposal for resolving domain name disputes.

Professor Michael Froomkin was among a panel of experts that WIPO consulted for input when preparing the draft, known as RFC-3.

Froomkin says the proposal, if adopted by the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, will give way too much power to trademark holders. For example, an arbitration provision in the proposal could make it possible for tradmark holders to attempt what he calls "reverse domain-name hijacking."

"When you register a domain, you're going to have to sign a contract agreeing to arbitration any time someone contests your domain. If you lose, you will have to pay all their costs. So for a $70 registration, you are risking several thousand dollars if you lose," Froomkin said.

Froomkin's critique of the WIPO proposal is available on the Web for review. WIPO is taking public comments on RFC-3 through March 12. After that, it will forward its recommendations to ICANN, which may or may not adopt them.

"Everyone who's interested in Internet governance has distracted by ICANN, DNSOs, and all that stuff," Froomkin said. "But if these contracts were re-written in the ways that WIPO proposes, it would be very bad for ordinary consumers."