France calls for block on .wine domains24th June, 2014 by Richard Ross
The French government is fighting to block the launch of .wine and .vin internet domain names, amid concerns that they will undermine the credibility of geographical indications like Champagne or Burgundy in the wine world.
At a London meeting of the internet domain name regulators ICANN, French minister Axelle Lemaire said that assigning these domains would threaten cultural diversity. The French authorities, and other European nations, are concerned that not enough safeguards are in place over who is allowed to register domains with the .wine extension.
The .wine and .vin domains were proposed alongside hundreds of others in 2012. The new domains include .vodka, .London and .bar, extending the so-called ‘gTLDs’ (Generic top level domains) from the already familiar .com and .org, and opening up a huge range of new possibilities for website owners. However, while the other gTLDs have now been approved for release, the wine-related domains remain the most controversial.
ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) receives bids from commercial domain registration companies to administer specific gTLDs. Opponents of the plan argue that commercial companies should not be responsible for such important decisions. Three companies have registered applications with ICANN for .wine, with one application also received for .vin.
ICANN insists that trademarks are already adequately protected in law, and domain registration can only be allowed when an applicant can demonstrate their right to a name.
However, bodies including the OIV (Organisation international du vin) are concerned that although trademarks are protected, there is no such certainty for geographical indications and regional names.