US producers to take on government

Regional bodies including those representing California, New York, Oregon and Washington are poised to take on the US government to protect key geographic wine regions.

InternetThe group, representing almost 2000 individual producers in the US, is fighting the proposed release of generic top level domain names (gTLD’s) such as .vin and .wine by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), for fears the result will be the acquisition of related domains by entities with no link to the regions.

Speaking to the drinks business, Nancy Light, vice president of the Wine Institute of California explained the issue, “Wine regions protesting the new domains don’t think sufficient safeguards exist to protect geographic names.”

Although producers are not directly affected, explained Light, the reputations of the regions are at stake, “Unlike Brand names, geographic names are not covered by trademark laws.”

This in turn means that domains like napa.vin or willamettevalley.wine could be purchased by third parties with no legitimate relationship with the regions, causing confusion and potentially misleading consumers.

And Light says the group is also taking on Europe, following proposals reported in the drinks business last month which would give the EU control, “We also believe that decision-making authority over the system should be non-discriminatory and formally objected to a proposal that would have given the European Union control over the use of .wine and .vin domain names.”

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