What is the Intellectual Property Constituency (IPC)?

As a longtime member of ICANN's Intellectual Property Constituency (IPC), I’m impressed by the important work that this group does on behalf of trademark owners worldwide (as I've written before). While some die-hard IPC members spend countless (and, often, thankless) hours working virtually and in-person (at ICANN's global meetings) for the constituency, I find it very educational and worthwhile to participate on an ad-hoc basis. Thanks to active email discussion lists and remote participation technology, the IPC offers numerous opportunities to get engaged with important issues affecting, primarily, the intersection of trademarks and domain names.

For example, at the recent ICANN meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, the Generic Names Supporting Organization Council (a part of ICANN's policy development entity) approved a working group to review all rights protection mechanisms in the generic top-level domains (gTLDs), an area that is of obvious importance to IPC members, who will certainly contribute greatly to its work.

Still, despite all of the the IPC's significance, I often find that many people are simply unaware of what this constituency is -- or, at least, what it does and who drives it. Fortunately, the IPC recently published an updated "one-pager" (well, it's really a 2-page PDF document) about itself, which provides some great introductory information.

Among other things, the document makes clear that the IPC is "primarily focused on trademark, copyright and related intellectual property rights, and their effect on and interaction with the domain name system (DNS)."

The IPC's "key" issues, as described in the document, are as follows:

  • WHOIS/registration directory services, including WHOIS accuracy, availability of WHOIS information, translation and transliteration of WHOIS information, privacy and proxy services, and advancements in “next generation” registration directory services.
  • Reviews of ICANN’s New gTLD Program including competition, consumer trust and consumer choice, and planning for subsequent rounds.
  • Reviews of rights protection mechanisms (RPMs) for the New gTLD Program and for “legacy” gTLDs, including the Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS), the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH), and the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP).
  • Internet governance, including the IANA Stewardship Transition and the associated process to enhance ICANN accountability.
  • Issues related to geographical indications and other geographic terms.
  • Abuses and concerns related to the New gTLD Program, both overall and with specific registries and new gTLDs.
  • Strong, consistent enforcement of ICANN’s contracts with registries and registrars, especially new provisions regarding the protection of intellectual property rights.

I recommend the IPC one-pager for anyone interested in learning more about these issues, including those who might want to join the constituency and further contribute to the protection of intellectual property on the Internet.