Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More on IDNs

Since writing yesterday's entry on Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) I've done a bit more thinking.
Is there any history that gives a guideline as to what may happen?
Many, if not all, common Māori words are registered in the space, and also in the .com world. The .com registry has permitted IDNs for a long time so I started investigating that. With the help of NZ History's 100 Maori words every New Zealander should know and a couple of other sites, I investigated a few common words.
  • Māori:,, and Mā all registered, but 3 different registrants
  • Tāne:,, and Tā all registered, again 3 different registrants
  • Pākehā: & were registered, to two different registrants. (I've grabbed Pākehā.com)
  • Waitematā: & were registered, again to different registrants. (I regged Waitematā.com too)

The pattern repeats reasonably well. Either the macron version isn't registered, or is registered to a third person.
When you add the large number of Māori loanwords in New Zealand English, I'm picking that most registrants of ASCII domain names with Māori words won't bother to register the Māori version.
What's happening to the second level domain?
Logically should become .mā, and I can't see anything in the consultation saying that this is an exception to the allowing of IDNs, which suggests to me that they haven't stopped and considered it. On the other hand this is a consultation so it's something that should be raised and clarified.
Is there going to be a .mā If not, why not? If so, will .mā and the nonsensical exist in parallel?
Should the sunrise period only apply to .nz domains?
When only ASCII names were permitted it was not possible to register mā, so people wishing to suggest that name needed to register something similar but incorrect. Obviously someone registered but someone else registered mā neither of which is quite right, but both are reasonable approximations of the desired domain name.
Why does owning give sunrise rights to mā, but owning mā gives no right at all? I could understand it better if had first pick and had second, but the proposed setup seems a little unfair.
Will all registrars be required to offer IDNs to existing name holders during the sunrise period? What will be done to protect the rights of existing registrants if their existing registrar decides not to participate, or imposes excessive fees.
Dispute Resolution
As noted yesterday, with current technology the ASCII name is easier to type for most people. This means that for any Māori domain name, the ASCII version is automatically an effective typosquat for the IDN name. I wouldn't be surprised to see DRS attempts in cases where the ASCII name holder doesn't register the IDN name.
I don't think claims like this should be allowed to prevail against a long established registration, but in case 241 (html pdf) a domain that was registered in 2000 was transferred on the basis of trademarks registered in 2003 and 2004. "In the present case, the inference is inescapable that the Respondent is using the disputed domain name in a way that is likely to confuse or mislead internet users into believing that the disputed domain name is registered to, operated or authorised by or otherwise connected with the Complainant."
As always there was more to the case than that one sentence, but it does demonstrate that an innocent registration can be displaced by an other usage (In this case a trademark) that arises years later.

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