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, but not limited to:[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.[6]
  • 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.

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.[7]

In 1999, WIPO submitted to ICANN its report on Internet Domain Name Process and made some recommendations on the following topics:[8]

  • 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.[9] The main governing body of the IPC is the IPC Council, lead by the constituency's president and made up of elected members.[10]

Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP)

Main article: Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy,

The Uniform Domain Name Dispure Resolution Policy is a set of guidelines used by ICANN to resolve disputes regarding the registration of domain names, mainly between IP right holders and registrants, filed with one of the approved dispute-resolution service providers for the given policy. Adopted in 1999, it was complemented by the Rules and Supplemental Rules[11] through 2009[12]. It is the first ICANN's consensus policy[13]

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.[14] 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.[15][16] 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.[17] Use of the TMCH is required for all new gTLD registries.[18]

Uniform Rapid Suspension

Main article: URS

Uniform Rapid Suspension, or URS, was designed by ICANN to provide trademark owners a even quicker and cheaper process to take down websites infringing on their intellectual property. In comparison to the UDRP, the URS is stricter, has an appeal process and does not result in the transfer of the domain name, just its suspension.[19]