French whine about .wine domain name

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Mon dieu! It seems that the French wine industry is feeling a little put out by the US-based international body that governs internet addresses.

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France is none too happy that Icann – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – is launching .vin and .wine top-level domains without any geographical protections.

International trade agreements mean that use of geographical indicators – such as champagne, bordeaux and burgundy – cannot be used outside of France, and that region-specific wine names are protected.

Now the European Commission, the UK and Spain have joined France to appeal to Icann to halt the release of the two domain names until a guarantee to protect geographical names is put in place.

“The problem is it is totally opaque, there is no transparency at all in the process,” Axelle Lemaire, France’s minister for digital affairs, told the Financial Times.

The FT said that France will demand a shake-up of Icann at a meeting of its government advisory committee in London today, calling for a bigger say for states in its governance.

The domain name challenge has also backed by California’s Napa Valley wineries.

“The importance of protecting wine-growing place names is critical to all wine-growing regions of quality; it is not solely a European issue,” Linda Reiff, president of the trade association Napa Valley Vintners, wrote in a letter to Icann.

“Internet users could indeed be deceived into believing that they are buying a genuine product with specific qualities and characteristics, when they are in fact getting an imitation.”

Stuart O’Connor