Arguments for Recalling WIPO RFC3


  • Ed Gerck



The Internet Domain Name System (DNS) allows a user to associate a name with a resource on the Internet, such as a machine, an electronic mail address, or a Web site. Trademarks exist in another, more traditional, name system which permits a customer to associate a product name with an enterprise, the mark owner. This paper argues that DNS names are intersubjective and never objective, while trademarks are objective and may also be intersubjective. These basic differences between a DNS name and a trademark name were however fully ignored by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) report RFC3, which seeks to regulate worldwide Internet domain names in purely objective terms. This paper further demonstrates that conflicts between the two naming systems exist in the intersubjective arena but are less than 0.04% for a typical well-known mark in a period of nine months. These results suggest that WIPO's RFC3 is basically flawed in motivation, qualification, and method, so that it should be recalled in totum. Its application would more probably cause more difficulties to Internet users and trademark owners than the few confusing cases it may avoid. A solution to these problems may be found in digital identity certification or at least origin authentication. "Business server certificates" - based on cryptographic challenge-response - can concretely define an objective business identifier on the Internet and can be used to support trademark requirements. Other issues such as cybersquatting, anonymity in DNS registration and tracing and stopping trademark-infringement sites are also treated in this paper.




How to Cite

Gerck, E. (1999). Arguments for Recalling WIPO RFC3. First Monday, 4(4).