Do governments possess exclusive rights in the use of geographic names in the Internet domain name system (DNS)? Since the first edition of this book in 2012 – then and now the only book to report on and critically analyse new generic top-level domain name policy – much has occurred in response to this question but no clear, predictable policy framework has yet emerged. This thoroughly updated second edition reassesses the need for legal clarity with its comprehensive identification and analysis of potential bases of rights in geographic names under international law, covering a diverse range of options including sovereignty and related State theory principles, intellectual property rights, geographical indications, unfair competition, and human rights. In a field that raises more questions than answers, the book is noteworthy for its in-depth examination of the implications of positive international law to assess the extent to which geographical names are currently protected and to what extent they can be exclusively claimed by governments in defence of territorial prerogatives. In the course of the analysis an entirely new field of international economic law emerges, as a number of distinct areas of law intersect and engage with such diverse legal issues as the following: issues of Internet governance; the legitimacy, transparency, and representativeness of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN); the role of ‘soft law’; the extent to which rights in geographic names are recognized in trademark law; impact of new domains on findings of distinctiveness in trademark examination; rights to national identity, self-determination, freedom of expression, culture, language, and property; ‘bad actors’; rights recognition and challenge mechanisms; controversial and ‘geopolitical’ names; and dispute resolution policy and processes, including discussion of specific applications lodged in 2012. Demonstrating beyond a doubt that a great number of different legal facets will need to be taken into account, this remarkable and far-seeing work offers a valuable contribution to shaping future rules in the field of internet domain name allocation. It is sure to be of the greatest interest both to practitioners – especially those advising on brand and domain name portfolios – and to academics and policymakers focusing on internet governance and its challenges in the process of legal globalization.
Author: Heather Forrest