After fifteen years two new alternatives to .com, .org and .net are finally arriving. All those involved with brands must urgently consider immediate action to minimise the cybersquatter threat.
Topic: Domain names
Who: ICANN, Neulevel and Afilias
When: May 2001
At last some degree of certainty has arrived regarding the seven new top level domains ("tlds") mooted in 2000 by the global domain name allocating authority ICANN. The .biz and .info domains, the first new tlds to become available for fifteen years, will be active later in 2001, the responsible registries authorised by ICANN being Neulevel for .biz and Afilias for .info.
For .biz the domain registry itself will begin operating "some time after 1 October 2001." The prior registration period will start in July 2001. For .info the equivalent dates are August 2001 and late June 2001.
The race is on now to beat the cybersquatter scourge. For.biz (available for any entity which can show it has a commercial purpose) Neulevel is offering an infringement notification service and the ability to submit domain name registration applications before the registration system officially begins.
The infringement notification service involves filing an "IP Claim" with Neulevel in respect of a trade mark during the "sunrise" period, in other words by 9 July 2001. The claimant will then get notification of any application received to register the identical mark as a domain name. They will also get the chance to challenge the application through a simpler version of the Uniform Dispute Resolution Procedure already set up to deal with cybersquatters.
From 9 July until 25 September 2001, companies may apply to the registry of their choice to register .biz domain names. Existing tld registries such as Network Solutions will be able to receive applications but must pass them on to Neulevel once actual registrations are possible in October 2001. During this "pre-registration" period Neulevel says companies should be charged no more than $2, with the appropriate additional registration fees becoming payable once the registry is accepting registrations.
For the .info tld Afilias is not offering the same system. Those with national trade mark registrations that issued before October 2 2000 may file for early registration of a .info based domain name. The period for acceptance of these will run from 29 June to 29 July 2001. Applications must be submitted to an authorised registrar. Any .info domain name reserved during this period must be submitted to an authorised registrar.
Why this matters:
All brand owners should be urgently reviewing their trade mark and domain name portfolios to establish if advantage should be taken now of these "sunrise" periods. A stitch in time could save rather more than nine later!