Why France does not want the domain of .wine

France is upset with the organization that is in charge for assigning Internet domains because of the future launch of the domains, .wine and .vin. According to their names in English and French, respectively.

Paris protested before the Corporation for the assignment of Names and Numbers on the Internet (ICANN) because it considers that these domains jeopardize commercial agreements on the sale of regional products such as champagne. Axelle Lemaire, the French minister, called for the creation of a general assembly to manage the domains, with a system of “one country, one vote”.

The United States accepted this year to hand over its control over Icann, based in California. Discussions are still going on about what kind of organization should take over.

In a letter sent to Icann and “Financial Times” quoted – the French minister said: “The absence of adequate correction mechanisms and, above all, the lack of accountability in Icann, demonstrate the need for major reform, including before the current debate on global internet governance systems is closed.”

Icann officials meet this week in London. Their purpose is discussing the creation of new generic domains of a higher level (gTLDs, in its acronym in English).

In 2012 a series of new domains of this type was announced, increasing the possibilities of .com and .net to have extensions like .amazon, .bbc and .nike.

There is concern that the overflow of new domains complicate the protection of the internet brands.

Fadi Chehade, the president of Icann, responded to the concerns of France.

“Wine is important, it is preferred by many people and there is no doubt that this case is important since it represents a huge sector for France and other countries”, he said.

However, Chehade suggested that France may not be pleased with the final decision on the matter.

The president of Icann, Fadi Chehade, says that the brand are protected already.
The wine has strict labeling rules, it depends on the place where the grapes originated from.

Champagne, for example, can only be produced in the French region of the same name.

Lemaire, minister in charge of digital affairs in France, expressed concern that the new domains weaken that identity.

ICANN, however, insists that brand names are already sufficiently protected.
In 2013 the company launched TMCH – the Trademark Clearing House, a brand database. Their goal was to help companies register the domains for which they are entitled by granting them priority access so they can reserve them.

“The main concern of wine producing companies and governments is that TLDs could open the market so that any company can register wine brands and resell them to production companies.” explained Vicky Folens, senior director of TMCH.

“But all these wine companies have brands, and those brands can be protected in different gTLD domains.”

However, if companies do not register and do not pay for their domains, they will be offered in most cases for general sale.

Folens said that the registration policy is not completely closed and that additional measures could be introduced to protect more domains like .wine.

Critics say that ICANN complicates things for companies that want to protect their brands by forcing them to pay to register new gTLDs. More than 80 companies asked the US Department of Commerce to act and protest a project that will have an “excessive cost” and “harms brand owners.”

Need some help?