Intellectual Property

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Intellectual Property (IP) as defined by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is anything created by the mind such as inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, names, images, and designs that are commercially used.[1]

Types of Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property is protected by:[2]

  • Copyright - protects the original works of authors, such as poems, novels, scripts, musical compositions and recordings, and other forms of literary, dramatic or artistic creations.
  • Patent - granted for the protection of inventions, which is defined as a product or process that is a new way of doing things or solving problems. An invention can only be patented if it can be utilized practically, displays an element of novelty, and includes characteristics of new elements in the body of existing knowledge, called "prior art," in the technical field. It must show an inventive step. Patentable work in most countries includes mathematical methods, scientific discoveries, new medical treatments, etc.[3][4]
  • Trademark - provides protection and exclusive rights to the owner of distinct marks used to identify goods or services.[5] It includes words, signs, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that identify a certain company, product or service.
  • Trade Secret - confidential business information that provides economic edge to a certain company. Examples of trade secrets include formulas, methods, or techniques used in business, programs, etc. Trade Secrets are protected under Article 39 of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.

ICANN and Intellectual Property

Prior to the establishment of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, President Bill Clinton's Administration created a White Paper, which contained the plans to be carried out by the U.S. government in order to create a new internet governing body to be responsible for improving the technical management of the Internet's names and addresses. One of the key elements discussed in the White Paper was to encourage the participation of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to help address issues on Intellectual Property rights, particularly the issue on how to resolve trademark or domain name conflicts.[6]

In 1999, WIPO submitted to ICANN its report on Internet Domain Name Process and made some recommendations on the following topics:[7]

  • Best Practices for Registration Authorities
  • Administrative Procedure Concerning Abusive Domain Name Registrations
  • Exclusions for Famous and Well-known Marks
  • New gTLDs

Intellectual Property Interests Constituency

Main article: Intellectual Property Interests Constituency

In 2002, the ICANN Board created the Intellectual Property Interests Constituency (IPC), later renamed the Intellectual Property Interests Constituency, under the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO). The IPC is responsible for representing the interests and positions of the owners of trademarks, copyrights, and other intellectual property rights in relation to ICANN's Policies in managing the Domain Name System.[8] The main governing body of the IPC is the IPC Council, lead by the constituency's president and made up of elected members.[9]

Trademark Clearinghouse

Main article: Trademark Clearinghouse

The Trademark Clearinghouse (TMC or TMCH) is a database of trademarks that will be established by ICANN in order to enhance the protection of intellectual property on the Internet.[10] The main role of TMCH is to serve as a central repository for the information related to the rights of trademark owners to be stored, authenticated and distributed.[11][12] When a customer attempts to register a new domain and the domain matches up with a trademark existing in the TMCH, the customer will receive a warning that the creation of the domain may be considered cybersquatting.[13] Use of the TMCH is required for all new gTLD registries.[14]

Uniform Rapid Suspension

Main article: URS

Uniform Rapid Suspension, or URS, was designed by ICANN to provide trademark owners a quick, low-cost process to take down websites infringing on their intellectual property.[15]