Reverse Domain Hijacking Bill in Congress Now.

Olympia Snowe (“RINO”-Corporate America) has introduced an anti-phishing measure in the Senate this week that seeks to bundle the noble purpose of hobbling would-be phishers and the not-so-noble purpose of expanding the rights of corporate trademark owners. It would allow them the use of the federal government to serve as their personal law firm, and most likely would restrict legitimate activity that is not rightly considered trademark infringment under the U.S. code’s currently very generous legal protections.

The Internet Commmerce Association has issued a mildly censorious position statement on the matter. Money quotes:

S. 2661, however, contains provisions that are largely unrelated to these objectives and that radically and unnecessarily expand the rights of trademark owners to essentially provide them with monopoly rights on registered trademarks to the detriment of millions of individuals and businesses engaged in lawful and legitimate Internet commerce. Moreover, the proposal goes far beyond protecting trademarks to covering brand names and business names that might otherwise not be entitled to trademark protection. Such an expansion flies in the face of established trademark law, poses significant risks to Internet commerce, and would be burdensome on our justice system.


However, ICA is also firmly opposed to the establishment of a parallel domain name infringement enforcement scheme that is more expansive and more onerous than the existing, highly effective remedies available to trademark owners through ICANN’s UDRP process and U.S. trademark law. Trademark owners already prevail in 85% of all UDRP complaints and nearly 100% of all ACPA cases. Yet some apparently now wish to establish a new regime for contesting allegedly “infringing” domains that is tilted even more in their favor by denying basic due process and substantive protections to domain name registrants—and that provides the possibility that they can use their power and influence to sway public officials to expend taxpayer dollars in defense of private intellectual property rights.

The overbroad and unnecessary trademark-like provisions of this bill are a recipe for massive reverse domain name hijacking by large corporations and are therefore a direct threat to the more than $10 billion in asset value created by the entrepreneurial ranks of professional domain name investors and developers, and to the beneficial goods, services, and information provided to consumers through their websites.

Don’t let this pass unamended. Forward the ICA position paper along with your own thoughts to your congresscritter, STAT.

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