Launch of IDNs under '.tel' will require vigilance

International
Telnic, the operator for '.tel', has announced its intention to follow in the footsteps of a number of other top-level domain (TLD) registries and allow the registration of internationalized domain names (IDNs). Currently, it is possible to register only '.tel' domain names using the Latin alphabet (characters A to Z) and numerals.
 
This will make it possible to register domain names under '.tel' such as 'café.tel', 'zoë.tel' and '??.tel' ('example.tel' in Chinese characters). These are IDN registrations in the current format of 'idn.tld', as opposed to IDN country-code TLDs.
 
Telnic originally launched domain name registrations under '.tel' in December 2008, commencing with a two-month sunrise period for trademark holders (for further details please see "Launch of sunrise period for '.tel' gTLD announced" and "‘.tel’ calling: sunrise period starts"). Currently, there are over 280,000 '.tel' domain name registrations and the TLD continues to show steady growth.
 
The '.tel' registry will start accepting applications for IDN registrations on June 15 2010 at 4pm Central European Time, and will initially offer IDN registrations in the following 16 languages: Chinese, Danish, Finnish, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish. Telnic has indicated that it intends to offer IDN registrations in other languages if there is sufficient demand.
 
Unfortunately, there will not be a sunrise period, which means that there will be no special protection for owners of registered trademarks. Telnic has also announced that IDN registrations will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
 
Brand owners whose names or brands usually contain an accented character, but which have so far only been able to register the unaccented version under '.tel', will thus need to be extremely vigilant and apply for their accented '.tel' domain name the moment registration starts. If not, it may be snapped up by a cybersquatter.
 
David Taylor, Hogan Lovells LLP, Paris

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