Friday, August 30, 2013

Political pressure on .WINE & .VIN applicants

This is a recent letter sent by the EFOW to the courteous attention of:
  • Dr Steve Crocker, Chair of the ICANN Board;
  • Mr Cherine Chalaby, Chair of the new gTLD Program Committee Board;
  • Mr Fadi ChehadĂ©, CEO of ICANN;
  • Mr Akram Atallah, COO of ICANN.
In copy: Ms Heather Dryden, Chair of the Governmental Advisory Committee

Object: « .vin » et « .wine », Bruxelles, 19th August 2013 

Dear Sir, Madam,

As you may know we represent the producers of wines whith a geographical indication (GI) from France, Hungary, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

We are extremely worried with the proposed extension of first level domain names, notably those relating to wines, i.e. .vin and .wine. We have had the opportunity to state very clearly that we are not opposed to it but rather that we would welcome these developments as long as the protection of wines with a geographical indication would be guaranteed.

In that regard we were pleased with the decision of the GAC in Beijing to postpone decision to grant extensions on these domain names. We immediately took this opportunity to look for solutions that would allow for the protection of our GIs and the development of the Internet. Informal contacts were made with .vin and .wine applicants. Our lawyer also sent them on our behalf a first letter on the 11th July, a few days before the Durban meeting.

We had taken good note of the GAC decision to give an additional month to the wine sector and to the candidates to find an agreement among them. Even if we considered this delay as being exteremely short, we remained optimistic that we would be able to find a solution with candidates. As we did not get any reply to our first letter, we sent another letter to the three candidates on the 31th July to reiterate our willingness to establish a constructive dialogue and to find a mutually acceptable agreement.

As of today, 19 August 2013, we have received two formal answers by letter and an informal one by email. We are pleased with the open-mindedness of certain candidates which seem to be willing to engage with us in the future. Nevertheless, we must note that the three candidates hide behind the GAC discussions and none is willing, at this present moment, to interact with us in order to find a solution. Moreover, we have also been informed of the fact that political pressure has been exerted on the candidates to discourage them to engage in any discussions with us (during the one month deadline given us by the GAC).

We deplore this situation and can only regret that our attempts to engage with the candidates, in order to find a concrete solution, has failed for the time being. The lack of agreement between the wine sector and the candidate companies seems to be the way sought by some. Unlike them, we are more than willing to find a suitable solution.

Taking into account this situation, we would like to ask for another reasonable delay to be granted in order to find an agreement. We also kindly request ICANN to invite the three candidates to talk to us. If not, the three projects might not come into effect.

We would be happy to provide you with all the letters and e-mails sent to the three companies in the last few months.

We have put our respective governments as well as the European Commission in copy of this letter. We will also informed the press that has been regularly asking us for the outcome of our discussion with the three candidates.

Finally, we would like to end this letter reiterating our conviction that a suitable and satisfactory solution is within reach. Only such a decision would offer the required credibility to the decision to extend first level domain names.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Riccardo Ricci Curbastro
President of EFOW

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