Del Monte companies face off over gTLD


Del Monte Corp has filed the first publicly-posted legal rights objection (LRO) under the new generic top-level domain (gTLD) programme – against .delmonte.

The canned fruit-producer is trying to prevent Fresh Del Monte Produce, which was spun off in 1989 under a licensing deal, from owning the gTLD because it would infringe its Del Monte trademark.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is handling the LROs, which cost $10,000 to file, and revealed the news on March 15, two days after the LRO window closed. Del Monte filed the complaint on March 2.

It is unclear how many LROs have been lodged but a lawyer confirmed to WIPR that his practice has filed at least two, and he expects more to follow. WIPO has not explained why it did not publish all LROs simultaneously but the lawyer said WIPO may still be processing payments and completing administrative procedures.

Del Monte Produce can file a response for $10,000 after WIPO notifies all applicants whose gTLD bids have been opposed. Once WIPO does this – expected to be within the next few weeks – parties have 30 days to respond.

WIPO will then appoint an independent specialist to assess whether the use of the gTLD would take unfair advantage of the distinctive character or reputation of the objector’s mark; or unjustifiably impair the distinctive character or reputation of the mark; or otherwise create an impermissible likelihood of confusion between the applied-for gTLD and the mark.

Panellists are expected to make a final decision within 45 days, with the prevailing party receiving a $8,000 refund. LRO rulings do not preclude court options.  

LROs are one of four objections that can be filed against new gTLD applications. The remaining three are called string confusion objections, limited public interest objections and community objections. An independent objector, French lawyer Alain Pellet, has filed 24 complaints against applications deemed to fall into the latter two categories.

If approved, the .delmonte application would be one of the first branded gTLDs onto the Internet, after ranking highly in a raffle-like draw used to determine the order in which the domains will be processed.

Neither company responded to a request for comment. 

This article was first published on 18 March 2013 in World IP Review

del monte, fresh del monte produce, gtld, icann, wipo

Trademarks and Brands Online