Sunrise period open for '.name' registrations

International

Global Name Registry, the manager of the '.name' generic top-level domain (gTLD), has opened defensive pre-registrations for domain names incorporating registered and common law trademarks directly under the '.name' suffix. Global Name Registry will start accepting registrations from the general public at 11:30am (US Eastern Standard Time) on January 14 2004.

The new registrations are in recognition of consumers' preference for the shorter, more familiar formats used by the '.com', '.net' and '.org' gTLDs. They will be in addition to the personal email addresses ([email protected]) and second-level domain registrations (eg, 'first.last.name') already available under the '.name' gTLD.

Trademark owners can choose to block either (i) the registration of a specific formulation with a standard defensive registration, or (ii) the unauthorized registration of any '.name' domain name incorporating a protected mark under the premium defensive registration. Standard defensive registrations block two levels of exact domain names in a specific formulation (eg, 'fitzpatrick.cella.name'). Global Name Registry recommends standard defensive registration for two-part company names (as above) or specific product names (eg, 'IBM.Thinkpad.name').
For broader protection of brand names that might appear anywhere in a '.name' domain name, premium defensive registration is the appropriate tool. It will prevent registration of names incorporating the protected trademark anywhere in a '.name' string (eg, 'prius.name', 'prius.hybrids.name' or 'drive.prius.name'), as well as blocking registrations of email addresses (eg, [email protected] and [email protected]). Defensive registrations are valid for 10 years.

Owners of trademarks similar to common personal names should be aware that registrations under the '.name' suffix are subject to the domain name dispute resolution procedures adopted when the '.name' gTLD was launched. If a hopeful registrant can demonstrate ownership of or entitlement to use a specific domain name that would be blocked by a defensive registration, he or she can challenge that registration and may be permitted to register a domain name that would otherwise be blocked.

Global Name Registry has adopted a 'three strikes' policy: if a defensive registration is successfully challenged three times, it will be cancelled. Accordingly, defensive registrants for trademarks that may be common personal names might find it advisable to act as a gatekeeper of sorts, acquiescing to registrations of a lower-level '.name' domain name by people who desire to register and use their own names, in order to prevent challenges that could endanger the defensive registration of their mark at the top level. Such permissive registrations would not affect the validity of the defensive registration, which should still protect trademarks against piracy.

Tila M Duhaime and Timothy J Kelly, Fitzpatrick Cella Harper & Scinto, New York

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