Domain name registrations under ‘.香港' to be launched

Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation Limited (HKIRC), which is responsible for operating the ‘.hk’ country-code top-level domain registry, is in the process of launching domain name registrations under ‘.香港' (‘.hongkong’). Previously, it was possible to apply for internationalised domain name (IDN) registrations only in the format of ‘idn.hk’.
 
The launch programis governed by the Pre-launch Priority Registration Period Rules for ‘.香港' domain names (drafted with the assistance of the Hong Kong office of Hogan Lovells). During the pre-launch priority registration period, the rules state that registrants of existing IDN registrations in the ‘.hk’ domain name extensions will be allocated the equivalent IDN registration under ‘.香港' in the same extension free of charge. 
 
Going forward, HKIRC will treat these domain names as the same registration. As such, they will share the same registration information, the same expiry date and, therefore, must be renewed, transferred, deleted and disputed together. As the domain names will be considered to be the same registration, domain name registrants will be required to pay only one renewal fee for both domain names.
 
During the pre-launch priority registration period, it will also be possible for registrants of ASCII character ‘.hk’ domain names to submit an application for the matching Chinese translation under the equivalent IDN extension. Domain name applications submitted on this basis during the pre-launch priority registration period will not be treated on a first-come, first-served basis. Rather, applicants for the same domain name will be invited to mutually agree upon who should be the rightful owner.
 
If the applicants cannot reach an agreement regarding the domain names, the domain name applicants will be assessed in terms of pre-defined criteria to determine which applicant has priority. The priority criteria are as follows:
  1. Eligible registered trademark (this would be a locally registered trademark closely matching the domain name).
  2. Eligible company name.
  3. Eligible trading/product name.
  4. Eligible personal name.
  5. Similarity of meaning or pronunciation.
  6. Registration date of eligible ASCII domain name.
  7. Random draw.
Thus, an applicant who is the holder of a registered trademark will have priority over an applicant who is applying on the basis of an eligible company name. If there is no clear case of one applicant having priority over another as per the criteria, the domain name will be allocated on a random basis.
 
Documentary evidence will be required in order to demonstrate the priority claim for points 1 to 6.  As above, HKIRC will treat such domain names as the same domain name registration and registrants will be required to pay only one renewal fee for both domain names.
 
It will also be possible for registrants of existing IDN registrations in the ‘.hk’ domain name extensions to apply for the equivalent ASCII character domain names under the same extensions. Applications for domain names made on this basis will be dealt with on a first-come, first-served basis and the domain names will be treated as one registration.
 
The pre-launch priority registration period will run from February 22 to March 10 2011.
 
David Taylor and Daniel Madden, Hogan Lovells LLP, Paris

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