Constantine Roussos on the .Music trademark, ICANN and the gTLD program

Constantine Roussos of .Music.

Constantine Roussos of .Music.

Constantine Roussos, whose company has applied for the .Music gTLD, is currently facing ICANN’s bureaucracy and effective bias towards the gTLD applications of large corporations.

Unfazed by the recent gTLD process hurdles that have generated a lot of criticism, Roussos is currently preparing a strong comeback, to ensure that his .Music brand and registered trademark receive fair treatment by ICANN.

In response to comments left on our recent article about .Music, Roussos left a lengthy comment that is worth perusing, as it details the modus operandi of his company, and why he is fighting for a cleaner and more honest gTLD process at ICANN:

Interesting comments and thanks for the support.

My 2009 comments (Wow, that was over 4.5 years ago!) referred to the notion of WINNING a TLD merely on holding a trademark. In context the Guidebook was over 3 years away from being completed and my statements reflect the notion that an applicant should NOT be given a string based on a trademark filing which I still agree with to this day. However, if there is bona fide use, a strong global brand built with community support, also a strong recognition of the .MUSIC brand in both the ICANN community and music community with our Initiative in the class of domain names then others should NOT be permitted to free-load on others branding efforts. The WIPO decisions favor U.S law and also the Panelists are merely copying and pasting others’ decisions. There is one instance where a Panelist says we have no bona fide use without even explaining how our branding efforts are a scam and not bona fide (Panelist is avoiding the real issue of others gaining unfair advantage over our global branding efforts and bona fide efforts to create a global brand – which we did). Another panelist (Google case) does not bother do a basic EU Trademark search and says the trademark is in my name (which is not true it is in DotMusic Limited’s name) and rules against us on that technicality. Another Panelist makes the case about “reverse hijacking” which clearly shows that they do not understand the gTLD process and they are confused. This is not a UDRP case concerning a domain name. The worst bit is that the process should NOT have allowed decisions to be made public because they do prejudice Objectors significantly, especially ones made in the beginning. The copying and pasting of LRO decisions has been horrendous from Panelists and many arguments were weak at best (e.g saying that people will call us “dotmusic” not “.music” which is ridiculous since all our branding efforts say “.MUSIC”). Then have the argument with Donuts which says that because they applied for 300+ gTLD and put in millions of dollars their intent was not violate trademarks and everything was in good faith. How is that even a valid argument? I think the 300+ gTLD application shows they are trying to monopolize the space and WIPO panelist arguments do not see the big picture at all. People will when it is too late though if this continues.

I could list so many things that went wrong with this process and the inconsistent decisions. Another issue is allowing Lawyers to be WIPO Panelist when they represent the interests of Portfolio Applicants in other Objections. For example, Doug Isenberg represents Amazon in their Community Objections. However he was allowed to be a WIPO panelist to render a decision against an Objector in an LRO with WIPO. How is that not a conflict? Note that Amazon was objected to by us in WIPO LRO and many others have as well and has won every case they were involved in. How is that not a conflict of interest?

We are leaving all those serious issues for a later date. We might be getting slapped in the face right now but not for long. Seems the process was set up for a select few to come in, use loopholes (e.g private auctions or circumventing background checks) and “buy” the entire namespace (portfolio applicants Google, Amazon, Donuts, TLDH, Famous Four etc).

In my opinion, the Internet is not for sale and ICANN is being irresponsible making 3rd parties make decisions based on a flawed Guidebook that does not serve the global public interest. The ridiculous decision to allow singulars and plurals and adding the auction component only serves ICANN’s pockets to maximize registration fees and auction money. Taking no responsibility is not a sign of leadership. ICANN could have easily ruled on generics that are closed/anti-competitive or plurals/singulars but chose to use 3rd parties to render those decisions. These 3rd Parties used the flawed Guidebook to render these decisions so it was by design that these decisions are being rendered. ICANN takes no responsibility since it is giving it to 3rd parties but any judge can clearly see the rules do favor maximizing registrations and revenue so one can argue there is a conflict of interest.

Allowing Donuts, Amazon or Google (and a select few portfolio applicants) to run the show or buy everything is not the recipe for new gTLD success. Donuts for example is trying to commoditize the entire namespace. Think .BIZ or .INFO. No community and no value. Our approach is a community approach (think .EDU or .GOV) but even the community criteria have not been edited (despite our countless efforts) and an arbitrary scoring system was put in place to settle those. And of course the portfolio applicants are selling the Koolaid that there is no such thing as community because it serves their story. Furthermore I find it strange that gTLD staff is leaving ICANN and joining portfolio applicants. You think there is no influence there? We are just one applicant for one string and we do feel that because of that we are being neglected by ICANN. This holds true for all the community applicants. Community gTLDs will get less registrations so not really in ICANN’s financial interest to allow those. If we fail community evaluation then everything goes to the highest bidder. So let me get this straight: our bona fide branding efforts are worthless (even if we spent millions over years to create this community-based brand) and it will be potentially auctioned out to the highest bidder? Our branding efforts will be “for sale” with ICANN as the main beneficiary and the winning auction Applicant reaping the benefits of all our work and outreach. Not one Panelist has bothered to look at the “unfair advantage” part. They merely ignored it because it fits their story and they are following the “herd” of WIPO panelists decisions and copying and pasting other decisions in theirs without really taking this process seriously and looking at the issues and how they will unfold. They will unfold in due time if this continues.

I fear the worse for this new gTLD Program. I used to be one of ICANN’s biggest supporters and the new gTLD Program but what is going on is not in the global public interest. There is a lot of confidential information I can not disclose but in due time I assure you we will fight in the global public interest and ensure this space is not dominated by 4-5 companies who have found a way to game the Guidebook and try to control the Internet and namespace. The writing is on the wall but many people do not realize exactly what is going on here.

There are bigger issues than .MUSIC and we will certainly fight for them. We will continue to fight the good fight and we are OK with all these portfolio applicants attacking us at every juncture. They want to run the entire show which is certainly not in the global public interest.

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Comments

One Response to “Constantine Roussos on the .Music trademark, ICANN and the gTLD program”
  1. NameYouNeed says:

    Agree with a lot of what he said.

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