The French government has announced that it is against the introduction of Internet domain names .vin and .wine.
France, the world’s leading wine producer, claims that introduction of the two wine associated domain names could undermine its international trade agreements that protect the use of geographical indicators like champagne and region-specific wine names.
The French government is arguing that by making use of the .wine and .vin domain names available, it will become easy for unscrupulous companies to pass off inferior wines.
The European Commission, the UK and Spain have joined France to appeal to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which regulates web addresses, to halt the release of the two domain names unless safeguards for geographical indicators are assured.
Axelle Lemaire, France’s minister for digital affairs, in an interview with the Financial Times, said, “The problem is ICANN is totally opaque, there is no transparency at all in the process.
“These decisions could imperil the current talks on the transatlantic trade partnership by forcing the imposition of a model by the means of technical discussions on internet naming.”
California’s Napa Valley Vintners is also supporting France and said that use of the two domain name will confuse customers.
Linda Reiff, president of the Napa Valley Vintners, the trade association representing the regions’ winemakers, also wrote a letter to ICANN stating that “The importance of protecting winegrowing place names is critical to all winegrowing regions of quality; it is not solely a European issue.”
“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.”
The appeal from the French government comes in time with the latest ICANN summit which is scheduled to take place in London this week.