ICANN “.wine” “.vin”: EU and US on a collision course

ICANN “.wine” “.vin”: EU and US on a collision course The delegation of the .wine and .vin keeps on dividing the EU and the US after the meeting in Buenos Aires. The ICANN Board received a number of letters this week calling for totally opposite decisions to be taken: the US advocating for the delegation and the EU and its Member States calling for safeguards. EFOW, the European Federation of Origin Wines, regrets the US hard-line position

On 30 January, the US sent a letter to the ICANN Board in which it stated that the delegation should proceed given that ICANN would be in “bad faith” if it granted Geographical Indications (GIs) protection to certain “market participants”. In a letter addressed to the ICANN Board on 3 February, the EU clearly stated that, on the contrary, the TRIPS agreement, an international agreement on the protection of Intellectual Property Rights that covers GIs, justifies the EU’s request for safeguards and that ICANN’s delegation would exceed its mandate should it delegate .vin and .wine. Moreover, the EU put its foot down by stating that if the discussions between the candidate companies and the wine sector were blocked or hindered, the EU would “advocate for the rejection of those two strings because the harm their operation as TLDs may cause to wine GI right holders, producers and consumers worldwide overshadows the benefit the registry and legitimate registrants may obtain from its operation”.

It is interesting to note that last November, the CITEL – The Secretariat of the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission – of the Organisation of American States (OAS), which encompasses 35 American States including the US and Canada, sent a resolution to the ICANN Board asking for GI safeguards on the .wine and .vin.

EFOW’s President, Mr Riccardo RICCI CURBASTRO, regrets the US hard-line position. “Internet is not a lawless zone. It needs to take into account the different interests, including the respect for Intellectual Property Rights. Through this battle, the EU is defending all GI products, including US wine names”. He also deplores that the discussions with the applicant companies are not moving fast enough. “This is even more incomprehensible since the sector demands are reasonable and easy to implement from a technical point of view”. EFOW calls upon the EU and its Member States to continue to oppose any delegation if there is no GI protection. EFOW still believes that the “.wine” and “.vin” can be an opportunity for the sector, but without safeguards its members will not doubt to engage in litigations and boycott these strings.

Next steps:

• ICANN should receive an independent legal advice on the GI issue

• The next GAC meeting will take place in Singapore from 23 to 27 March


As from ICANN’s meeting in Beijing (April 2013), governments involved in the GAC (Governmental Advisory Committee) have stressed the existence of thorny issues in the “.wine” and “.vin” files. The EU and its allies have called upon ICANN not to delegate these domain names as long as measures to protect Geographical Indications (GIs) are not implemented. Three companies are candidate to the management of these strings and have announced their intention to auction second-level domain names. This means that anyone could buy domain names such as “bordeaux.vin” or “rioja.wine” and sell any kind of product under this heading. The main risks for consumers would be product deception and for producers misappropriation of the reputation of their wine name and cybersquatting. Since the Beijing meeting, we have been witnessing a struggle between the EU and the US. On the one hand, the US is supporting its Internet industry and a lawless internet; on the other hand, the EU and its allies are calling for the respect of Intellectual Property and a regulation of the Internet. At present, discussions seem to have reached a deadlock. It seems that the only way to get out of this “impasse” is through a sector-candidate companies dialogue.


Daniela Ida Zandonà (Bruxelles) : +32 2 733 50 58

Pascal Bobillier Monnot (Paris) : + 33 6 10 26 74 73

Jesús Mora (Madrid) : + 34 661 58 66 14

Cristiana Tirabovi (Rome) : +39 06 44 250 589

Alberto Ribeiro de Almeida (Porto) : + 351 222 071 647

David Braszil (Budapest): + 36 141 375 27