Battle on “.wine” and “.vin”: the European Commission raises its voice

Faced with the lack of progress on the discussions on the “.wine” and “.vin” and on the eve of an important decision by ICANN, the European Commission has decided to raise its voice. It has taken two strong initiatives. First a letter, dated 12 September, to the attention of the ICANN Board in which the European Commissioner for the EU Digital Agenda, Mrs. Neelie Kroes asks ICANN not to delegate the “.wine” and “.vin”. Then, a meeting on Monday, 16 September, between Commissioner Kroes and the President of ICANN. The EU executive has already signaled that its relationship with this organisation may depend on the outcome of this case.

The creation of new first level domain names (today “.com”, “.eu” etc.) is still causing debate. This is particularly true in the wine sector given that issues regarding the delegation of certain domain names might jeopardise the protection of geographical indications (GIs). For months, the European wine sector has been denouncing the risks related to consumer fraud, counterfeiting, cybersquatting and misappropriation of notoriety. Now, the European Commission is also raising its voice and putting pressure on ICANN. The European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda made clear the position of the Commission in a letter to the ICANN Board on 12 September. In it, Commissioner Kroes notes that the wine sector’s attempts to find a suitable decision with the candidate companies have failed. Given the “legal implications, the political sensitivity and the economic interests”, the Commission calls on the ICANN Board not to delegate the “.wine” and “.vin” as long as rules on the protection of GIs are not included. Commissioner Kroes calls for cooperation between the parties and implies that ICANN’s credibility is at stake. The Commissioner will meet today, Monday 16 September, with the President of ICANN to reassert the EU’s position.

EFOW, the European Federation of Origin Wines, welcomes the clear message sent by the Commission. EFOW’s President, Mr. Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, said: “ICANN and the applicants should be aware that they are facing a united front at the European level. They still hold the key to the solution. There are two options: either, they finally engage with us to find a suitable compromise to allow for “.wine” and “.vin” to be delegated, or they continue to ignore us and will be responsible for the failure of these two domain names. We reiterate that we are ready to support any candidate and dossier that will protect our GI wine names“.