BEHIND ENEMY(TM) LINES


A recent URLY Report article, "QUESTIONS OF JURISDICTION IN DOMAIN DISPUTES", discussed the global level negotiations currently taking place on that very subject.

Obviously none to soon, it appears, as last week "The Internet and Federal Courts: Issues and Obstacles" hearing was held before Congress. Much of the hearing was devoted to discussing efforts by the Hague Conference on Private International Law to establish an international treaty governing foreign court judgments -- this, the forum discussed in "QUESTIONS OF JURISDICTION ...")

US intellectual property experts and industry leaders complained that the Hague has not taken the emerging e-commerce landscape into account in its negotiations.

A current draft of the proposed Hague treaty "inadequately addresses and in some cases woefully ignores the advent of e-commerce," Information Technology Association of America attorney Marc Pearl told the House Courts and Intellectual Property Subcommittee.

"Negotiations have, in a sense, reached a crisis point," State Department international legal advisor Jeffery Kovar told the subcommittee.

One of the core concerns (highlighted in "QUESTIONS OF JURISDICTION ...") is that many foreign nations either want to enact a rule requiring that disputes be settled solely in the country of a seller's origin or conversely institute language saying that all disputes should be settled in the buyer's country.

Mark Thurmon of the American Intellectual Property Law Association suggested the international domain name dispute resolution procedure developed by ICANN could serve as a good template for a broader dispute resolution apparatus.

(That's reassuring, eh?)

Fortunately there was some balance present, as a few on the panel warned against placing too much power in the hands of non-governmental dispute resolution procedures.

"While efficiency and speed are important aspects of a dispute resolution process, fairness is also important," University of Minnesota law professor Dan Burk said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, has announced "Intellectual Property Symposium of the Americas: Protecting Intellectual Property in the Digital Age." The focus is on enforcement. It will take place in September, and of course on the agenda: Resolving Domain Name Problems in Cyberspace.

The deadline to submit a request to attend is July 31st. Requests to attend should be made to Doris Long at soa2k@uspto.gov. There's all sorts of protocol attached to the request, so if you're interested, don't delay.

Final tm-watch note ... The FCC is considering the possibility of overhauling how 800 numbers are administered. The current system is one of the thorns in the trademark lobby's flabby tush - the FCC refuses to recognize trademark jurisdiction in vanity numbers -- refuses to replicate trademark vanity numbers in new toll free codes -- etc. Though beyond many domain name holders' radar, domain names and toll free numbers are intertwined as response mechanisms, as brand mechanisms, etc.

I've no doubt the IP elite will be watching to see how to benefit from this unexpected turn of events. Stay tuned.

Judith Oppenheimer is a noted toll free number and domain name expert; president of http://1800TheExpert.com, and publisher of http://ICBTollFree.com. Copyright (c) 2000 ICB, Inc. All rights reserved.