Preface: 1-3 Domain Names and Me Japanese Page
Toshihiro Tsubo, JPNIC Trustee
It was in 1986 that I had my first exposure to an Internet-like world. At the time, personal computer communication was just beginning to catch on in Japan, and I was initiated into it by a professor in Canada (Simon Fraser University, Vancouver) with whom I had become acquainted on a network, and who secured me an account on his campus network. My new account was Toshi_Tsubo. I later realized that the account name was followed by a hidden string, "@SFU.MAILNET." That was the first domain name I ever used. MAILNET was an academic network operated by MIT and linked via a gateway to ARPANET, CSNET, BITNET, UUCP, and others. In those days, e-mail messages could not be delivered if they did not contain a network gateway indication. Thus, e-mails to me were addressed to "Toshi_Tsubo%SFU.MAILNET@MIT.Multics.ARPA," or "...!seismo!ubc-vision!sfu.mailnet!Toshi_Tsubo," etc. As you may deduce from these examples, in those days two lines were often dedicated to the sender's information. Within the same network, the domain name could be as conveniently straightforward as "Toshi_Tsubo@SFU.MAILNET," but that was not necessarily the case when it came to inter-network communications.
Reflecting the Internet user population explosion and the proliferation of e-commerce and e-business activities in recent years, domain names have been gaining importance as brand names in cyberspace. At the same time, this trend is proving conducive to conflicts with historical, real-world trademarks. Discussions have been held throughout the world in search of a way to resolve the issue.
In October of last year, ICANN adopted the "Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy." Acting on this development, JPNIC established a task force in December of last year that was charged with creation of a JP domain name dispute resolution policy, an effort in which I was involved as a task force member and coordinator. A key objective of these dispute resolution policies was to expeditiously dampen obviously problematic practices (such as "cybersquatting," or preemptively staking a claim to domain names for subsequent transfer to a third party at exorbitant prices). Dispute resolution procedures will be handled by an organ dedicated to dispute resolution, independent of domain name registration services. The merits of this approach lie in the fact that a case can run its course much faster than when going through the court system (at most, within 55 days), processing costs are much lower than in a trial, a decision is made on the basis of documents submitted by complainant and defendant (with no need for either party to be present), and, in the case of dissatisfaction with the result, the door remains open for the case to be filed with a court of law.
By way of responding to many users' wishes, JPNIC is considering creating new domain name spaces that will allow anyone to register as many domain names as they may wish. We think that this method of dispute resolution is quite significant amid the recent developments.
If I may digress a bit here: Between sittings while preparing this manuscript, I attended a celebration for an acquaintance who had just published a book. The party opened with congratulatory speeches. Among them was one by Machi Tawara, who said, "For the longest time, I thought that the letters 'JP' found in mail addresses stood for 'jump.' But it really stands for 'Japan,' as I found out later." When the program moved on to the chat hour, I walked up to her to introduce myself, saying, "You said you thought JP was for 'jump.' Well, I work for the organization that registers JP domain names." "I'm sorry," she said, "but don't take it too hard. I also thought OR was the conjunction 'or'." So she must have thought the string OR.JP stood for 'or else jump.' It was a thought-provoking way to end the day; maybe there are a few housekeeping matters on hand that need to be tended to before we can even begin to worry about dispute resolution...