INTA, It’s An Honor

I generally write these posts in the third person because I am speaking for the ICA’s membership. But today I’m going to depart from that style and speak personally.

Yesterday I received word that my application to become a member of the Internet Committee of the International Trademark Association had been approved, and that my two-year term will commence in January 2014. While I was happily surprised by the news I must admit that I didn’t expect it.

Most of the Committee’s global membership is from large corporations and law firms – while I’m a solo lobbyist and Of Counsel to a small DC IP-centric law firm. Also, in my role as Counsel to the ICA I have at times taken strong positions of opposition to INTA’s views on some aspects of rights protections at new gTLDs, as well as against positions espoused within ICANN by some Committee members on matters such as the need for UDRP reform and whether ICANN’s handling of the Trademark-Plus-Fifty issue was proper.  

So it’s great that, despite some past differences, INTA welcomes a diversity of views when discussing trademark protections on the Internet. Then again, whenever I engage in a spirited policy debate I always remember and try to conduct myself by a motto learned when, just out of law school, I served in staff positions at the U.S. Senate – “We can disagree without being disagreeable.”

There is also common ground. ICA, like INTA, condemns intentional digital trademark infringement via cybersquatting or other means, and we share concerns about ICANN’s operational methods and decision-making. I also find in reviewing the Committee’s membership roster that I already know many of the current participants and that my experience with all has been positive –some have even become good friends.

The Committee has five Subcommittees:

  • ·         Online Use Subcommittee
  • ·         Domain Disputes, Ownership and WHOIS Subcommittee
  • ·         New gTLD Registry Issues Subcommittee
  • ·         International Domain Name Issues
  • ·         Governance Subcommittee

My first choice would, naturally, be the one concerned with domain disputes and ownership, but I’m not yet sure how the selection process works or how many assignments I will receive.

Committee membership is accompanied by an expectation of attendance at the INTA Annual Meeting as well as its Leadership Meeting each year, so those are substantial additional time and expense commitments beyond my participation at ICANN meetings on ICA’s behalf (as well as my participation in several Committees of the Intellectual Property Section of the American Bar Association). There will also be multiple conference calls and work to be done on various issues. Like everywhere else, with rights come responsibilities.

Overall, I’m delighted and humbled by the notification, and looking forward to participating within INTA, to learning from Committee colleagues and to sharing the perspective of the domain industry. Indeed, this appointment is an achievement not just for me but for ICA – when the Association launched in September 2006 the goal was to give eyes, ears, and a voice to domain investors and developers  in those policymaking forums where decisions are made that affect the value of their portfolios and the permissible uses of their domains. We have certainly achieved that within ICANN, as well as in Washington where we have effectively intervened on proposals such as the Snowe Bill and the SOPA legislation. And now we will be inside the INTA Committee where trademark interests hammer out their positions regarding the proper scope and effective enforcement of trademark rights in cyberspace.

So thank you, INTA. I look forward to participation and hope to make useful contributions. It will be an honor to serve.


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