[At-Large] R: IGO names: is this worth war?

Karl Auerbach karl at cavebear.com
Sat Nov 5 00:14:48 UTC 2016

I've been watching this conversation.

And it strikes me that we have a hammer and thus we have become locked 
into a tunnel vision in which we perceive the issue only as a nail.

But there are other approaches that have not been raised.

Let me begin with an aside and note the assumptions by Barry S and 
others that IGO names are somehow "trademarks".  Notice the structure of 
that word, "trademark" - "trade" "mark".  A trademark is something used 
by those in commerce.  IGO's are not normally in commerce and thus not 
in "trade".  However this is but a distraction of historical interest 
and not the main thrust of this e-mail.

Rather, I am asserting that trademark principles, even if we wanted to 
use them, are not the best vehicle through which IGOs can obtain the 
ends they desire.

The purpose of a trademark arose from a need of buyers (not sellers) of 
goods (and services) to have solid assurances of the source of those 
goods and services.  The system of trade and service marks is to benefit 
consumers by allowing vendors to place trustworthy marks on their 
products and to have means to remove counterfeit or confusingly similar 
goods and services.

But that was then and this is now, and we are dealing with digital matters.

And for digital matters a whole new technology has grown over the last 
few decades - digital signatures.  With this technology there is no need 
of trademarks.  Rather a consumer can test a digital signature on a 
digital product to be assured not only of its source but also that the 
product has not been modified.  That means that digital signatures do 
what trademarks do and more.

So what do IGO's want? They want some way to assure the world of 
consumers that the electronic materials they publish and their 
electronic interfaces to accept input are actually published by those IGOs.

For that purpose they need not come to ICANN for protection; they 
already have the tools they need - digital certificates from the 
established certificate authorities around the world.

They can use TLS to identify their web offerings - and any consumer can 
walk up the certificate chain to check that they are chatting with the 
IGO itself and not a fake.  And they can use digital signatures on 
individual documents so that even outside the web and HTTPS those 
documents can be validated for integrity of source and content.

And they can use DNSSEC to assure that the domain name records they 
publish have not been altered or usurped.

So ICANN could be blunt and tell the IGO's that ICANN has done enough 
already, that ICANN refuses to undertake yet another expansion of its 
non-technical role as internet name policeman, and that the IGOs already 
possess, and should use, the tools they need to reach the actual goals 
to which they aspire.


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