‘.mp’ extension opens to personal identity and social networking

Saipan DataCom Inc, the registry for the ‘.mp’ country-code top-level domain (ccTLD), has announced that it is promoting ‘.mp’ for personal identity and social networking through the sub-domain ‘.chi.mp’.
‘.mp’, the ccTLD for the US Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, was initially marketed as ‘Mobile Phone’, the first complete mobile phone content platform. By promoting the ccTLD in this way, Saipan DataCom attempted to capitalize on the increasing use of mobile phones to access the Internet at that time. A ‘.mp’ domain name could not be purchased separately and came with one gigabyte of site storage space hosted by Saipan DataCom. Content supplied by the customer was formatted by Saipan DataCom so that it could be accessed by wireless devices such as mobile phones.    
However, this use of ‘.mp’ domain names did not take off and has presumably now been rendered obsolete by the launch of ‘.mobi’. Therefore, in May 2008 the registry announced that it had started promoting the ccTLD for personal identity and social networking through ‘.chi.mp’. ‘Chimp’, which stands for the Internet's Content Hub and Identity Management Platform, will allow users who sign up for a ‘.mp’ domain name to create a networked platform online. The service is designed to offer its users the opportunity to conjoin content from different social networking sites in one site. The idea is that instead of having to remember different passwords for each different website (eg, Yahoo!, Facebook, Hotmail and Flickr), users can type in their ‘.mp’ address to log in. According to Saipan DataCom, industry observers have forecast that this new feature will result in 7 to 10 million registrations under ‘.mp’ by mid-2010, although this does sound slightly ambitious. However, given the boom in social networking websites, these predictions may yet come true, especially as ‘.mp’ domains are free to register.  
Before being opened up to the general public, the introduction of the new service was preceded by a sunrise period which lasted until August 31 2008, during which trademark owners could register domain names before the general public. Challenges to registrations made during the sunrise period can be submitted during the sunrise challenge period, which started on September 8 2008 and ends on November 7 2008. Sunrise challenge rules will apply to any challenges. Each challenge should detail why the complainant believes that the domain name has been registered in violation of the sunrise registration conditions. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)’s Arbitration and Mediation Centre will administer any challenges received, although to date no challenges have been posted on WIPO's website.
On September 3 2008 Saipan DataCom approved a variation of the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) for the resolution of disputes concerning ‘.mp’ domain names. A major difference between the so-called mpDRP and the UDRP is that whereas both registration and use in bad faith must be established under the UDRP, only one of these elements will suffice for a complaint brought under the mpDRP. Cases brought under the mpDRP will be administered by WIPO.
David Taylor, Lovells LLP, Paris

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