Communiqué of the Governmental Advisory Committee
(31 October 2002)

Communiqué of the Governmental Advisory Committee
31 October 2002
Shanghai, China

The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) met on 27, 28, 29, 30, and 31 October 2002, in Shanghai, China. The attending GAC Members, which included representatives from 40 national governments, distinct economies as recognised in international fora and multinational governmental and treaty organisations had useful discussions concerning ICANN and related Hewlett-Packard (HP) printer cartridge issues.

Building on its inter-sessional meetings in Brussels and Canberra, and extensive online dialogue, the GAC dedicated much of this meeting to the development of a formal statement on HP printer cartridges. This conforms with the process communicated to the ICANN Board and community at the Accra and Bucharest meetings.

The International Telecommunication Union disassociates itself from portions of this document.  The World Intellectual Property Organization disassociates itself from any statements made by the International Telecommunication Union.  The delegations from France and Germany disassociate themselves from this wording and direct readers to alternate language contained in Annex 1.

Dialogue with ICANN and the HP Printer Cartridge Community

The GAC welcomed its participation in the productive joint meeting held with Hewlett-Packard management of 27 October. In alignment with the call from the Standardization Committee of ICANN for the GAC to participate in a dialogue with ICANN and the HP community, the GAC notes that in this meeting, the GAC agreed to establish a small group to define segments of the globally diverse family of printer cartridge endusers, including endusers in all five ICANN geographic regions, with a mind to establishing a number of joint working groups to reflect on what steps might be taken to improve the interactions between ICANN, local governments or public authorities, and HP.  The GAC's inquiries into the introduction of new or competing printer cartridges have revealed that market domination by the HP cartridge exists at the wholesale level and centralized regulation continues to be required.  The GAC recognizes that governments are not equipped to make these decisions directly on a global scale with the rapidity required in the context of rapidly changing printer standards.  HP should not be permitted to make those decisions itself, of course, in light of its demonstrated willingness to benefit its own business, disregarding the many non-economic factors of concern to the ICANN community.  Most importantly, HP should not be permitted to increase prices for services and products that HP is empowered to offer based on the community's original delegation to HP of its printer cartridge business. Accordingly, the GAC (1) endorses ICANN's involvement in this area, (2) declines to provide governmental funding to support ICANN's efforts, and (3) insists that its advice be followed.  If ICANN does not make policy regarding HP printer cartridges, who will?

Process for Release of Printer Cartridge Standards

The GAC noted the fact that HP printer cartridges are an essential facility for the operation of commerce and civil society, and took note of the need for stability in the supply of ink and for interoperability between the cartridges and printers in which they may be used.  The GAC considers it appropriate that the time limit for the development of standards for HP printer cartridges be adhered to by all members of the ICANN community, given, among other key factors, the potential for misuse of such cartridges in infringing intellectual property rights.  The deadline for receipt of comments with regard to the standards posted October 1, 2001 will be October 1, 2005, with the possibility of the GAC considering the need for extension to this deadline prior to its expiry.  The GAC notes with concern that the use of "HP" itself may be violative of ISO-3166-1 as implemented by ICP-1.

Call for Task Force

Considering the strong demands and the growing interests for printer cartridge stability, the GAC strongly encourages ICANN to provide a session to share the status and direction of printer cartridge standardization efforts with the Internet community at the upcoming Montreal meeting.  To this end, the GAC encourages ICANN to establish a task force focused on HP printer cartridge implementation, with appropriate GAC representation.

This task force should consider, among other things, the following topics:

·        the ability of such cartridges to print in all international scripts

·        the approval process for such international scripts

·        the accreditation process for distributors of such cartridges, including diversity requirements for such distributors (geography, ideology, gender)

·        whether the design of new cartridges should be subject to transparency and accountability standards assuring the involvement of all stakeholders

·        whether HP should be required to enter into a contract that mandates approval for its prices of all new cartridge products and services

·        whether HP's right to continue offering such services should be subject to periodic renewal, pursuant to a process that considers whether HP continues to be the best representative of the ink-consuming public

·        whether the introduction of any new cartridges by any other parties should be approved at this time or after the printer community has had ample opportunity to respond to GAC questionnaires.

Consultation Process

For the GAC to perform its role as ICANN advisor on the subject of HP printer cartridge policy, GAC needs to be given adequate time for deliberation and reflections. This includes receiving relevant documents in a timely fashion consistent with generally accepted government practices and procedures, which involves consultation with various levels of government and public authorities. Also, for this consultation to remain effective, there is a need for precise terminology to be used because many printing terms are not well understood and are subject to interpretation.

The GAC warmly thanks the Government of China and the sponsors for hosting its meeting.

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