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Web3 Domain Alliance launches to try to bring order to blockchain domains

Group wants intellectual property rights for blockchain strings, and also to help protect brands in the domains.

Logo for Web3 Domain Alliance has stylized W3DA

A new advocacy group, Web3 Domain Alliance, launched today, backed by Unstoppable Domains and a bunch of small players in the space.

The group has a couple of main goals. One is to prevent name collisions in blockchain domains, which Unstoppable has been fighting for. The other is to create some way to protect the intellectual property rights of others in blockchain domains.

Here’s the group’s pledge, per its website:

To abide by the Web3 Domain Alliance’s principles of developing unique, interoperable blockchain domain namespaces, NFT domains, and advocating for the legal protection and market acceptance of blockchain namespace.

To protect users and endeavor toward the development of interoperable NFT domain naming systems by promoting voluntary avoidance of namespace collisions with existing Web3 naming systems in the Web3 domain industry.

To advocate for the policy position that NFT domain registry owner-operators create trademark rights in their web3 TLDs through first commercial use with market penetration.

To protect our intellectual property rights, including trademark rights, in our web3 TLDs.

To work with fellow Web3 Domain Alliance members to promote the advancement of the Web3 Domain Alliance’s policy positions.

To work with fellow Web3 Domain Alliance Members to advocate for recognition of NFT domains by a broad community of stakeholders, and the public.

The site reiterates its core argument about gaining intellectual property in a separate callout near the top of its website:

The Web3 Domain Alliance believes that blockchain-based generic web3 Top Level Domains (“TLDs”) developed and marketed by a specific organization are intellectual property, and that industry participants should respect the intellectual property rights of all blockchain naming services for the benefit of consumers as well as applications that want to support blockchain domain functionality.

Unstoppable Domains has argued that the first company to introduce and market a blockchain top level domain name should get exclusive rights to it. It has also tried to get government-granted trademarks for its top level domains, mostly without success. The United States doesn’t issue trademarks for top level domains. The rationale boils down to this: when you see, you think of the brand Amazon, not the “brand” .com.

The company sued the creator of the .wallet name in Handshake and even shut down its own .coin extension when it found out another entity brought a .coin to market earlier.

The decentralized nature of blockchain technology will make achieving this goal difficult. Anyone can spin up a blockchain naming system anytime without a central authority’s approval. The traditional DNS system has ICANN, which allocates top level domains and ensures the security and stability of the overall system.

And some of the competing blockchain naming systems aren’t run by a single company like Unstoppable Domains. So, deciding not to create matching top-level domains is not in the hands of a single person or entity.

Some blockchain domain supporters believe that matching top level domain names is not a problem, given their use on different blockchains.

One of the group’s other core goals, to protect intellectual property rights in (second level) blockchain domains, is probably necessary for these domains to gain widespread adoption. Implementing such a system will prove challenging given the decentralized and sometimes anonymous nature of these domains.

Despite that challenge, it’s a smart idea to add this to its charter. It could help the group get the backing of intellectual property interests who otherwise wouldn’t be interested in the group’s mission.

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Author: Andrew Allemann

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