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.