'.asia' registration procedures unveiled


A unified Asian top-level domain (TLD) is a valuable and cost effective tool enabling trademark owners to reach the entire Asian region via a single domain registration, as opposed to separate domain registrations in each individual Asian country they do business in, which tends to be both difficult and expensive due to often stringent local presence requirements. (However, this is true only if users actually visit the websites hosted under these domain names.) Details of the procedures to register '.asia' domain names have now emerged. While rules are still in the draft stage, DotAsia, the '.asia' registry, has indicated that it is highly unlikely that there will be significant changes before finalization.

The procedures are designed to avoid many of the pitfalls of the '.eu' launch, which for instance saw a small group of registrars and registrants acquire hundreds of thousands of the most valuable '.eu' domain names (see EURid suspends 74,000 '.eu' domain names on suspicion of warehousing). Because the '.eu' sunrise period was conducted on a first come, first served basis, many trademark owners spent vast sums of money, in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars, to obtain priority position in registration queues, only to see other entities claim the valuable '.eu' domains corresponding to their trademarks through last minute spurious trademark registrations in lax jurisdictions such as Benelux and the use of numerous phantom registrars. Additionally, the trademark owners which were able to acquire the domains corresponding to their trademarks have not seen the return on investment they hoped for. This is due in large part to the fact that some of the small group of registrants that acquired the most valuable domains, including trademark and typo domains, registered these domains in order to monetize them by posting pay-per-click advertising links instead of actual content, while others registered the domains with the intent to resell them, not posting any content at all. The result has been that fewer internet users have been persuaded to directly navigate to websites in the '.eu' TLD rather than '.com' or their local country-code TLD.

Learning the lessons from the '.eu' experience, DotAsia has proposed that the '.asia' registration process incorporate a multi-tiered sunrise period with:

  • application deadlines for qualifying trademarks;

  • the ability to register keywords with the trademark; and

  • live auctions (i) to ensure that more legitimate trademark owners are able to acquire the domains corresponding to or incorporating their trademarks, and (ii) to promote actual use of '.asia' domains by registrants in the form of content relevant to the '.asia' community.

The '.asia' community consists of the Asia/Australia/Pacific region as defined by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, and includes 73 countries.

To be eligible for '.asia' domain registration, one of the associated domain contacts (registrant, administrator, technical or billing) must be a legal entity within the '.asia' community.

The sunrise period will be split into the following phases:

  • Pre-sunrise and sunrise 1 will enable governments in the community to reserve and register domain names relevant to them.

  • Sunrise 2 will provide priority registration for applicants with registered trademarks and service marks. At this time, it has not been decided which jurisdictions will qualify for sunrise 2 prior rights, but it seems highly likely that all jurisdictions in the '.asia' community and the United States will be included. There will be three sub-phases of sunrise 2:

    • Sunrise 2a: qualifying marks must have been applied for before March 16 2004 and registered before the submission of the '.asia' application. The application must be supported by a copy of the official registration certificate as well as an affidavit, and supporting documents demonstrating usage in the class for which the mark is registered will be required.

    • Sunrise 2b: qualifying marks must have been applied for before December 6 2006 and registered before the submission of the '.asia' application. The application must be supported by a declaration of verifiable mark registration information, with the documents required upon request.

    • Sunrise 2c: approved applicants under the other sub-phases of sunrise 2 may apply for '.asia' domains consisting of their trademarks and relevant words found in the class heading of the Nice Classification for any class in which the qualified mark has been registered.

    Sunrise 2 applications received within one sub-phase will be considered to be received at the same time. For domains with only one successfully verified application, the domain will be allocated accordingly. For domains with more than one successfully verified application, a live auction will be held between the successfully verified applicants. Interestingly, before the commencement of the auction, information about each qualified applicant will be provided to the other qualified applicants to assist in bidding decisions.

    Applications for the three sub-phases will be verified by a verification agent that will be appointed by DotAsia.

  • Sunrise 3 will allow for registered organizations in the DotAsia community to register their own entity name as a domain in the '.asia' registry. Applications for this phase must be supported by one of the following documents:

    • extract from relevant companies register;

    • certificate of incorporation;

    • certificate of good standing; or

    • other equivalent certified document.

    Applications for this third phase will not be verified by a verification agent, however, application information, including submitted documentary evidence, will be posted publicly so that parties suspecting that a particular applicant or registrant is not qualified may take prompt action.

    Applications received during this phase will be considered to be reserved at the same time. As in the second phase, domains with more than one application will be
    auctioned between applicants.

  • During the prescribed landrush period, any entity meeting the local presence requirement will be eligible to apply for registration, supported by a declaration that the applicant is a legal entity in the '.asia' community. Applications will be sampled for verification that the applicant meets eligibility requirements and documentary evidence is required upon request.

    Applications will be considered to be received at the same time, avoiding rush and lottery-like conditions at the opening of the landrush. Domains with only one application will be allocated to the applicant. As in the second and third phases, domains with more than one application will be auctioned between applicants.

Once the '.asia' registry goes live, any entity meeting the local presence requirement will be eligible to apply for registration. No declaration of eligibility will be required, but eligibility will be checked by sampling with documentary evidence required upon request.

Applications submitted after the '.asia' registry goes live will be processed on a first come, first served basis.

Marc Trachtenberg, Ladas & Parry / Ladas Domains, Chicago

Unlock unlimited access to all WTR content