DotAsia launches '.asia' domain name


DotAsia, the registry operator for the '.asia' top-level domain (TLD), has launched a three-phase sunrise period for the registration of '.asia' domain names. The new domain is available to any person or business located within the Asia-Pacific region, Australia or the Middle East, thus providing an additional suffix possibility for companies based in these regions. Currently, there is only one regional TLD: '.eu', which was launched in 2005. Applications for the '.asia' TLD were opened on October 9 2007.

Applications are open to governments, trademark owners and other rights holders for the corresponding '.asia' domain names during the sunrise period between October 9 2007 and January 15 2008.

Under Phase 1, governments from the region are invited to apply for domain names that correspond to the relevant body or department.

Phase 2 is divided into three sub-phases for:

  • registered marks;

  • general registered marks; and

  • extended protection.

In the first phase of the second sunrise period, DotAsia will reserve the domain names of holders of well-established trademarks and services marks applied for before March 16 2004. The general registered marks sunrise period, on the other hand, is for owners of trademarks and service marks that were applied for on or before December 6 2006. The extended protection sunrise period applies to owners of registered marks, as well as certain significant words from the class description in the Nice Classification.

Finally, Phase 3 allows companies in Asia to secure their business or other legally recognized trading names.

From February 2008, during the 'land rush' phase, domain names that have not been applied for will be made available to the general public.

In order to apply for an '.asia' domain name, no documentary evidence is required for Phase 2 applications. A verification agent will be appointed to review the application and obtain further documents if necessary. Phase 3 applicants must submit their business registration certificate (or equivalent) as evidence. Such applications will not be verified, but will be posted publicly and be subject to challenge.

Unlike the European Registry of Internet Domain Names, DotAsia plans to use an auction process where there are multiple applicants for the same domain name, rather than the first-come, first-served method. Each qualified applicant will be given the details of the rival companies to help it formulate an appropriate strategy. The highest bidder will win the right to the relevant name.

DotAsia is expecting a wave of applications for '.asia' domain names, as applicants are likely to save time and money by registering a single regional domain name, rather than one domain name for each individual country. Moreover, owners of '.asia' domain names are expected to increase their chances of ranking well in internet searches, as some search engines search only the country domain extension and language. In addition, '.asia' domain names will give companies an Asian identity.

Karen Abraham and Janet Toh Yoong San, Shearn Delamore & Co, Kuala Lumpur

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