[At-Large] Proposed ALAC statement on reserved names for the IOC and Red Cross

Hong Xue hongxueipr at gmail.com
Mon Mar 5 07:46:12 UTC 2012

Without attempting to say what is right/wrong/good/bad, it might be
> important to remember that the various Red Cross strings and I think
> the IOC ones (but not quite sure about that) are not trademarks.
> Whether they would be handled by WIPO (or UDRP) procedures, I don't
> know, but they are a different sort of beast. The various Red Cross
> symbols are character strings (as it has been explained to me) are
> not actually "owned" by the International Red Cross Movement but are
> protected in accordance with treaties, by individual laws within
> virtually all countries. Moreover, unlike trademark violation,
> improper use of the symbols and strings are protected in most
> countries by criminal code statute, so improper use is actually a
> criminal offence.
> I did not join the ALAC call so am not sure whether the following "legal"
or "factual" basis has been addressed or not.

It is true that RC or IOC emblems are not trademarks and cannot be
"trademarkable" under the relevant international laws. So UDRP that can
only handle disputes between trademarks (service marks) and domain names is
not available proceeding to ICRC or IOC. BUT, within the new gTLD review
process, both sets of symbols can be protected through "objection based on
legal right", which applies to all the IGO names (and other names). Besides
RC and IOC, GAC, ALAC and Independent Objector can all object to the
pertinent applications and bring them to the dispute resolution process. So
it is indeed questionable whether RC and IOC deserves more protection than
the other IGOs.

It is true that RC and IOC emblems are both protected under the
international treaties. But Geneva Convention (series) and Nairobi Treaty
on the Protection of the Olympic Symbol are actually not on the same page.
While almost all the countries in the world have joined the Geneva
Conventions and should protect RC and the other three equivalent names,
Nairboi Treaty has only 50 member states (as of the end of 2011) and
contains many exceptions (such as non-commercial use and prior use). It is
doubtful whether ICANN's absolute protection for Olympic signs has gone
beyond the Treaty. Interestingly, USA is still not a member state of
Nairobi Treaty.  Existence of an international treaty does not entitle
certain signs holly right.

The preemptive measure is both limited and ineffective. For example, it
cannot exclude Olympik, etc.


Dr. Hong Xue
Professor of Law
Director of Institute for the Internet Policy & Law (IIPL)
Beijing Normal University
http://www.iipl.org.cn/ <http://iipl.org.cn/>
19 Xin Jie Kou Wai Street
Beijing 100875 China

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