The use of domain name endings on the Internet has taken a new twist. California Democratic Congressman Mike Thompson asked the Internet Corporation for Assigning Names and Numbers (ICANN) to ban the use of .wine and .vin domains by people or entities that have no connection to the wine business in order to protect the interests of vineyards around the world.
Thompson represents the 5th District of California, which encompasses Napa County, the home of many vineyards. He was echoing Rep. Anna Eshoo, from the Silicon Valley, who asked ICANN in late June for those wine-specific domain endings, also called generic top-level domains (gLTDs), to “be permanently withdrawn from consideration.”
Eshoo wrote, “Specifically, it’s my understanding that the .wine and .vin gLTDs have been met with fierce opposition from the wine industry, both here in the U.S. and around the world. Given those concerns… I urge you to advocate for the .wine and .vin gTLDs to be permanently withdrawn from consideration.”
Seven regional wine organizations have joined to protest the sale to the highest bidder of the two gLTD’s. Those organizations are the Oregon Winegrowers Association, representing 545 wineries, the Napa Valley Vintners (500 wineries), Sonoma County Vintners (230 wineries), Willamette Valley Wineries Association (200 wineries), Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance (160 wineries), the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association (150 wineries) the Walla Walla Wine Alliance (75 wineries) and the Long Island Wine Council (48 wineries).
The organizations are furious that Suzanne Radell, the NTIA’s senior telecommunications policy advisor, told ICANN on June 22 that it is “just three U.S. wineries out of thousands and thousands” protesting the open use of the two gLTDs.
Tom Danowski, executive director for the Oregon Winegrowers Association, said:
When it comes to fine wine, the distinctive expression of place matters a great deal. The importance of protecting the quality reputations of our fine winegrowing regions is what concerns us about ICANN”s recent action on domain names such as .wine or .vin. Fine wine consumers could be deceived into believing that they are visiting a website associated with a genuine product exhibiting the specific qualities and unique characteristics of a growing region, when they are in fact being influenced by an imitator who happened to be the highest bidder for that particular domain name.