Chinese IDNs go mixed


Chinese internationalised domain names (IDNs) in simplified and traditional characters have been available for registration since 2005. Previously, Chinese IDNs could be registered only where the DNS label (ie, everything before the ‘.中国'/’.中國' extension) was also in Chinese characters.

Following a recent announcement by the ‘.cn’ registry, China Internet Network Information Centre, as of October 29 2012 it is possible to include Roman scripts/numbers/hyphens as part of Chinese IDNs.

For example, while it was previously possible to register the domain name ‘路伟.中国' (the Hogan Lovells Chinese IDN), it is now be possible to register ‘'. It is also possible to register a ‘.cn’ domain name consisting entirely of numbers (eg, ‘'), a combination of Roman scripts and numbers (eg, ‘') or any of the preceding domain names incorporating a hyphen (eg, ‘', ‘' or ‘123-45. 中国').

There were two consecutive sunrise periods - as detailed below - before the registration of ‘.cn’ domain names incorporating Roman scripts/numbers/hyphens opened to the public. The two sunrise periods were open for holders of corresponding registered trademarks (ie, word marks which consisted of purely Roman scripts and/or numbers - logo/device marks excluded - initially, and afterwards for holders of corresponding English ‘.cn’ domain names).

From September 16 2012 to October 14 2012, holders of registered trademarks could apply to register their trademarks as ‘.cn’ domain names, provided that the trademark registration was identical to the domain name that they wished to register (excluding the ‘.中国'/’.中國' domain extension) (eg, Hogan Lovells could apply to register ‘', but not ‘' or ‘').

This was followed by a sunrise period between October 15 2012 and October 23 2012 for holders of Roman script ‘.cn’ domain names which reflected the Chinese IDN (eg, as holder of ‘’, Hogan Lovells could apply to register ‘'). In other words, the DNS label of the Chinese IDN for which registration was being sought had to be an exact replica of the DNS label of the corresponding English ‘.cn’ domain name.

The results of the sunrise periods were announced between October 25 and October 28 2012, respectively, with registration being open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis from October 29 2012.

The changes are good news for companies, as they may now register Chinese IDNs featuring their Roman script trademarks, thereby creating greater visibility of their trademarks in China.

Companies that were eligible (ie, companies with corresponding trademark registrations or corresponding English ‘.cn’ domain names) were advised to register the equivalent Chinese IDNs during the sunrise periods to prevent their registration by third parties. The cost of registering such domain names would be significantly less than the cost of recovering a domain name after it has been registered by a third party (particularly if the domain name is discovered more than two years from its date of registration, as this would be outside the limitation period for recovery of ‘.cn’ domain names via administrative proceedings, and the domain name may be recovered only via civil proceedings).

Gabriela Kennedy and Heidi Gleeson, Hogan Lovells, Hong Kong

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