“.wine” and “.vin”: delegation postponed

At ICANN’s last session in Buenos Aires (17 to 21 November), the “.wine” and “.vin” took center stage again. Governments which are divided on the question of the protection of Geographical Indications (GIs) asked ICANN to seek legal expertise. In parallel, discussions between the applicant candidates and the wine sector were finally launched in Buenos Aires. EFOW, the European Federation of Origin Wines which took part in the discussions in Buenos Aires calls on ICANN not to delegate these two new domain names and on candidates to propose concrete solutions.

34 States against 3: a power struggle with unequal forces

For several months a growing number of Governments within the GAC (Governmental Advisory Committee) have been asking ICANN (the domain name system technical oversight body) not to delegate the “.wine” and “.vin” as the applicants’ dossier lack measures to protect GIs. Since August ICANN had been prompting the wine sector and the candidate companies to find an agreement in view of a final decision in Buenos Aires. In the Argentinean capital, the “.wine” and “.vin” remained a specific point of conflict in a tense atmosphere between the Europeans and the US on Internet governance and the functioning of ICANN. On one side, a coalition of 34 countries led by the European Union and supported by Latin American and African countries, called for GIs to be taken into consideration. On the other side, 3 countries, including the United States, asked to delegate the “.wine” and “.vin” without providing for GI protection. After tough negotiations, GAC members agreed to ask ICANN to seek legal expertise to understand better what is at stake with a view to take a sound decision.

A symbolic file for a better functioning of the Internet

The European Union which defends a multi-stakeholder approach in the domain names delegation hopes that the dialogue between the sector and the candidates will succeed. It should be noted that for the first time in 4 months, constructive discussions between some candidates and the wine producers took place in Buenos Aires. These companies now have to propose, as others did on for instance the « .bio », a solution which will allow for GI protection.

“We would like to recall that these new domain names represent a wonderful opportunity for our sector if and only if the candidate companies provide guarantee for GIs. We are willing to support and promote these domain names only if our GI names can be protected. Regardless of ICANN’s decision, the success of these domain names will largely depend on the European sector and its operators. This is why we favour a win-win approach and we hope that the candidates will do the same” declares Riccardo RICCI CURBASTRO, President of EFOW. He however remains vigilant, “we ask the European Commission and the 34 Member States to maintain their position. We will judge the actions and will see if the new model of Internet governance called for by Commissioner Neelie KROES and the European Union will become a reality or not.”

The next ICANN meeting is scheduled to take place in Singapore in March 2014.