Trademark Law and gTLDs: Will the Puzzle Come Together?


ADOTAS – Global trademark laws have served the business community well during the last century. But is it possible that with the advent of ICANN (International Association for Assigned Names and Numbers) gTLD (generic top-level domains), a new layer of speed and protection could complement the trademark holders to further establish their name identity presence and visibility in a complex marketplace?

Although the trademark laws have served the business community very well during the last century, now, with the advent of  the ICANN gTLD platform, it appears there will be an additional layer of speedy protection and an increase in name identity visibility, resulting in market domination via name identity.

Here are the key issues:

Global domain name management is under one universal set of rules, as managed by ICANN. The logical expansion of gTLD would enable players to acquire one master gTLD root, enjoy the benefit of its instant visibility around the globe, and not have to worry about fragmented policies and name variations normally adopted to fit trademark rules of local countries. In the real world, it would be an impossible task for all global trademark bodies to adopt a single universal trademark platform for proposed name clearance.

The current landscape of trademark law resembles a complex jigsaw puzzle. Countries are arranged, piece by piece across the globe, and conflicts between sets of trademark laws are likely to arise. Trademark laws traditionally vary country by country, and as a result, regional or regional filing can be a prolonged, expensive and litigious process.

ICANN gTLD, on the other hand, resembles a single canvas stretched across the globe. ICANN has taken a bold approach insofar as cyber branding is concerned to offer a solution that would allow the rise of a brand name in the fastest time at a minimal cost with the maximum impact. The simplicity of the concept, though, that cascades into an intricate debate thanks to the mythical fearmongering that has circulated for the last six months among the advertising and branding trade associations of the world.

Is the trademark profession under threat by this new universalized approach? This new platform eliminates bureaucracy, inefficiency and the lingering costs of stretching trademark coverage. Is it possible that current brandholders that are entangled in regional expansion and fearful of single-body clearance?

The fact is, the majority of current brandholders are lost in a jigsaw puzzle where some pieces fit, while most don’t. Any attempt to seek out a comprehensive global solution simply doesn’t appear to be possible. This scenario imposes serious questions to be addressed by the boardroom. What would the corporation do, change or not change? This is where the biggest level of fearmongering resides.

The monster change that gTLD brings to the table is its capability to centralize a domain name by creating touchpoints at the granular level without compromising its name identity. This level of master name integrity doesn’t exist with today’s tools in the open-for-all domain space. Names were always modified and appended with slashes, dashes and other components so they would work in local jurisdictions. With gTLD, for example, “dot sony” would remain .sony even when operating millions of subdomain names across 200 countries. They will all end up at .sony. It’s very unfortunate that the ensemble of the wise men from the upper echelon of the advertising and marketing elite have failed to recognize that the old 10-dollar dot-com space has no play in this million-dollar, sophisticated, highly regulated name acquisition process. The curtain rises on “single domain name universality” on January 12.

Naseem Javed’s new book, which aims to clear up lingering confusion on this subject, is called Domination: The GTLD Name Game. It’ll be released worldwide on Feb. 12, 2012, through his website.




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