Trademark owners benefit from '.pro' sunrise period


RegistryPro has launched a sunrise period for qualified trademark owners to secure defensive name registrations before the '.pro' generic top-level domain opens to the public in July. The '.pro' domain, which the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers approved in November 2002 alongside '.biz', '.info', '.name', '.aero', '.coop' and '.museum', is targeted at professionals. RegistryPro offers second-level domains within the '.pro' domain for doctors (''), lawyers ('') and accountants ('').

Defensive registrations are available to individuals and entities of any nationality, regardless of professional status, that own a national trademark registration issued prior to September 30 2002. The first type of defensive registration is called '.ProGuard' and blocks registration in a single '.pro' second-level domain (eg, ''). The second and broader type is called '.ProBlock'. It blocks registrations in each of the three existing second-level domains as well as any future second-level domain. Both types cover only domain names that exactly match the corresponding registered trademark. However, it is not clear how the registry will treat word marks that incorporate design elements or stylized marks when applying its 'exact match' requirement.

Defensive registrations are issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications are processed in daily batches and, in the event of duplicate applications, registrations are issued on a random basis. It appears that (i) RegistryPro will continue to offer its defensive name registrations in addition to actual domain name registrations, and (ii) defensive registrations may be converted to true domain name registrations after the registry goes live. Presumably, conversion will be limited to registrants that meet the domain name registration eligibility criteria, that is, be either (i) licensed in one of the 50 US states or the District of Columbia as a doctor, accountant or attorney, or (ii) an organization that provides accounting, legal or medical professional services and has an employee who satisfies one of the above criteria and registers on behalf of such entity.

Authorized registrars are listed on RegistryPro's website. As with other domains, registration rates and terms may vary between registrars. However, based on currently posted rates, it appears that a four-year term of .ProGuard costs about $950 and a four-year term of .ProBlock costs about $2,800. At least one approved registrar, BulkRegister, is offering special volume discounts to lawyers who apply for defensive name registrations on behalf of their clients.

Lisa R Trovato, Piper Rudnick LLP, Washington

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