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French winemakers worry .wine domain names will confuse consumers

Published:  24 June, 2014

French winemakers are concerned the launch of new domain names .vin and .wine would confuse consumers and cause them to buy inferior wines.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, previously controlled by the United States, has started talks about customised web names, leaving many firms concerned about how best to protect their brands online.

At a meeting in London on Monday to discuss the future governance of the body, some government representatives were worried that Icann wasn't taking account the views of all interested parties.

FranceFrench producers are worried about .vin domain namesFrance is angry that its top level wines, which it works hard to protect, could be in jeopardy if domain names like .wine or .champagne go on general sale.

Wine producers voiced concerns that region-specific products like Champagne would be at risk if domain names were bought by companies outside of the registered Champagne producers - which could then sell other sparkling wines. Fadi Chehadé, president and chief executive of Icann, said domain names often acted to reassure consumers they were visiting an authentic site.

Continuing until Thursday, 3,300 representatives are in attendance to discuss the group's governance and new generic top-level domains outside of .com and to .amazon and .nike.

As reported by the BBC, Icann's Chehadé responded to France's concerns saying: "We all like wine. There's no issue with the fact that wine is a serious matter, it's also a major industry for France and other parts of the world.

"I think that their concern about this gTLD is warranted. There are mechanisms at Icann to pursue - and they should continue pursuing them."

France's minister for digital affairs Axelle Lemaire told the Financial Times that the system for assigning domain names was "totally opaque". Additionally Lemaire wrote that domain names such as .vin or .champagne could put geographical indicator rights in jeopardy in a letter to Manuel Barroso, European Commission head.

France has also been lobbying other wine producing countries to get their support on the issue of the .wine domain names.