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Isn’t it time Dell, HP and Nike reviewed their CADNA membership?

Category : Domain names, ICANN, Internet governance, Technology · by Apr 8th, 2010

You have to wonder how often large corporates review the work done in their name through lobbying organizations, because it is definitely time that big names such as Dell, HP, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, Nike and Wells Fargo consider whether their support of the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse – CADNA – is starting to undermine their credibility.

CADNA has been pushing wildly inaccurate information, mostly against ICANN, for a few years. But in a recent frivolous piece of nonsense, it has pushed out a press release claiming that new Internet extensions (gTLDs) will cost “brand owners” $746 million. The figure is pulled out from nowhere, doesn’t stand up to even the most basic scrutiny, and is in fact is no more than a press release. It also stands in stark contrast to the serious work that has actually been done on the possible impact of new Internet extensions on trademark owners.

How is it possible that CADNA – which famously held a Washington event on the future of ICANN and then refused to allow anyone from ICANN to attend – is allowed to get away with this kind of nonsense? The answer is that the companies that give the organization is vanishing credibility aren’t aware of what is being peddled in their name.

So who is CADNA? Well, based in Washington, CADNA is just two people – Josh Bourne and Phil Lodico. Josh and Phil were both previously from Register.com and CADNA is an offshoot and the main client of their lobbying company, FairWinds Partners.

Initially pitching themselves to US corporates as strategic minds for domain names, they soon realised that there were many more better equipped consultancies out there in a small market, and so switched to a lobbying group for Intellectual Property interests in domain names in Washington, offering big firms like Hewlett Packard and Morgan Stanley updates on a complex and fast-moving world. They successfully latched onto the issue of drop catching as a way to highlight bad practices within the small DNS industry.

However, drop catching and domain tasting were pretty effectively dealt with by ICANN. So in order to keep this niche lobbying organization alive in tough times, CADNA has resorted to fear-mongering and drum-banging about the introduction of new generic top-level domains and ICANN in general: this latest press release being just the latest example.

Typically any concerns raised in Washington regarding the DNS are swiftly repackaged by CADNA into a press release. It’s pretty shallow and pointless and CADNA has little or no credibility within the DNS community, but in the Washington echo chamber, it sounds as though CADNA is on the ball and helping to keep an eye on things.

What Dell, Nike, Wells Fargo and the other members don’t realise unfortunately is that all they need to do is talk to those already heavily involved in the intellectual property discussions within ICANN (such as the IP constituency) to find out exactly what is going on.

Of course the reason big companies provide their names and small amounts of money to lobbying firms is because they get updates, representation and don’t have to spend time and resources dealing with the issue themselves. However, there can come a point where a lobbying organization goes so far, and undermines its credibility to such a degree that membership starts to become a liability. CADNA is definitely there at the moment.

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(2) comments

Kevin
7 years ago ·

CADNA’s figures seem to be based on the ICANN prediction that there could be 400 new gTLDs in the first round.

They’ve multiplied that by an estimate that a typical company will register an average of 3 trademarks per TLD. Not sure what they’re basing that on, but it might not be massively unreasonable. M+M, coming at the debate from the other side, reckons 29% of brands, even crappy ones, are currently registered in even crappy gTLDs. So if a company owns 10 trademarks, that’s 3 registrations per TLD.

Then CADNA has probably multiplied that number by an estimated sunrise cost of $500 per domain. That could easily be an excessive estimate. At least, it’s probably excessive if you’re talking about registrar purchase price and not also factoring in the cost of hiring the person to make the purchase, paperwork, lawyers, etc.

So what is that, $600,000 per company? Not sure why CADNA settled on $500,000.

You don’t need to multiply $600,000 by many companies to get to the $746m figure. About 1,200, maybe.

Has there been any *serious* work done on how much cash will be drained from trademark holders as a result of these new gTLDs?

Personally, I’ve not seen anything convincing.

kierenmccarthy
7 years ago ·

It’s a good guess Kev. Even if they followed your logic though, the end figure would still be a nonsense.

Re: serious work done. Well, I’m not a huge fan of the research already done. It’s better than nothing but it’s not a Forrester Report for example. I wish one of the research companies would decide it’s worthwhile building a report for sale. I reckon there is a tappable market of 500 or so for a report costing $1,000 – that has to be worthwhile.

Anyway, getting back to CADNA – this latest release is so shoddy that I wonder what they think they’re doing.

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