May 23, 2009

From trademark offices to domain name registrars

Trademark registrations are run by an administration. In an article Privatizing Trademarks, Irina Manta suggests the system could be left to the market. Excerpt:
The resulting model proposes the use of private entities as competing registrars that would process trademark applications and enter registrations into a common, national database. These entities may offer their services for different fees, allowing for more expensive expedited processes as well as slower, cheaper registrations. Both formal and informal mechanisms would provide potential customers with information as to the quality of each entity, and the government would regulate both entry into this market and who could remain in it. The government would set a number of conditions for the necessary start-up capital and expertise on the part of registrars. It would also conduct random checks to ensure high-quality registration as well as shut down any entities that fail the checks or whose marks are struck down in litigation with high frequency. The government could further impose penalties on registrars who fail to fulfill their obligations to apply the conditions of the Lanham Act when accepting marks for registration.
This reminds of something, but what? :~)

Later in the article, the author uses ICANN as an example of "Privatization in Intellectual Property" (though the fact that domain names fall in the IP regime can be discussed), but acknowledges that comparison is limited, given that in the case of domain registration owners of preexisting trademarks compete against other people who would like to registrar the terms used in these marks.

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