The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) met today in London to discuss adding new .wine and .vin domains during their annual session.
The addition of these domains has been a long time coming. In 2010, Project DotVinum began their efforts to create the domains. In 2012, ICANN launched a program to investigate new global top level domains (gTLDs.) At that time, several private companies applied for .wine gTLDs.
Almost immediately, tensions began between the private firms who wanted .wine and .vin domains and countries, as well as winemakers, who wanted to protect the reputation of their wines. The European Federation of Origin Wines (EFOW) sent a petition to ICANN, as they believe .wine and .vin could violate some existing intellectual property rights. ICANN could not come to an agreement with EFOW about the future of .wine and .vin, and ICANN has since replied to OFOW's letter, stating "ICANN has continued with the processing of the .VIN and .WINE applications."
France has been particularly outspoken about this tension. Axelle Lemaire, France's minister of digital affairs, spoke at the ICANN session. Lemaire believes that these new domains "would threaten France’s desire to 'preserve the cultural diversity' built on Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne—wines endemic to different French wine regions."
Lemaire aims for geographical protection for .wine and .vin domains. This would prevent companies like, say, André, from paying top dollar to take over a .vin or .champagne domain. Don't get me wrong, André is a fantastic $4 bottle of something, but champagne it most certainly is not. This is exactly where Lemaire's worries (and those of the other organizations unhappy with ICANN's potential decisions) lie.
ICANN has responded to the criticism by assuring all attendees that trademarks would be respected in full. Still, they hinted that regardless of France and OPUW's issues with the domains, they are looking to move forward, "We all get frustrated sometimes when we don't get the conclusion that we want," said ICANN president Fadi Chehade.
Chehade also reminded us that "wine is serious. We all like wine." Very serious indeed. Pass the juice box, Fadi.