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Lawmakers fret over ICANN policy on trademarks and gTLDs

Amazon ponied up $185,000 each to apply for 76 generic top-level domains (gTLD) when ICANN opened up the process in 2012, but the most important TLD Amazon applied for, dot-Amazon, has yet to clear the approval process.

The Amazon gTLD has been in limbo for more than a year because of sovereignty arguments raised by Brazil and Peru.

How ICANN will treat trademarks as the organization approves and expands the applications for generic top level domains has been a top concern of trademark and brand owners.

On the agenda this week in Buenos Aires is a proposal from ICANN’s Government Advisory Council that would favor geographical name objections at the expense of brands.

A pair of lawmakers Monday urged ICANN’s CEO Fadi Chehade and Stephen Crocker, ICANN chairman of the board, not to go down that road at a time when the U.S. is preparing to hand over the stewardship of a key function of the Internet to ICANN.

“We believe it is incumbent upon ICANN to “resolve this issue” and demonstrate that “all stakeholers and trademark owners can be treated fairly,” Reps. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) and Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), co-chairs of the Congressional trademark caucus in the letter.

“Neither Brazil nor Peru has any legally recognized rights – let alone intellectual property rights – in the term ‘Amazon’ and there is no basis in international law for either country to assert rights in the term ‘Amazon,’” Reps. Forbes and DelBene wrote.

The lawmakers contend that ICANN has “no legal basis” to reject Amazon’s application for the gTLD and threatens the established principles of international trademark law.

Earlier this month, a group of a dozen lawmakers led by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) voiced similar concerns earlier this month to ICANN leaders about the GAC and its increasing control over ICANN’s policies.

“As the plans for the IANA transition develop, it is critical that ICANN’s rules and policies not be subverted by government interference,” the letter said.