New administrator relaxes domain registration rules

Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Domain Name Registration Company Limited (HKDNR) has taken over the role of administering '.hk' country code top-level domain names from the Joint Universities Computer Centre. New domain name registration rules have also been implemented. The main changes include the liberalization of multiple domain name registrations and the introduction of a new dispute resolution policy. HKDNR is also in the process of introducing another second-level sub-domain for individuals. Currently, an individual cannot register a domain name ending with '.hk'.

The changes bring Hong Kong's registration system into line with regional competitors. Countries like Japan have also lifted restrictions on multiple domain name registration recently in order to encourage increased local registration.

The deadline for registration for all '.hk' domain name registrants that registered before June 1 2001 has been extended to May 31 2002. Domain name registrants that registered before February 19 2001 have the right to keep the old contract or to accept the new contract during re-registration. Registrants that fail or refuse to re-register risk having their registrations rendered void.

As HKDNR wishes to encourage genuine use of domain names by businesses, applicants must be holders of valid business registration certificates. Domain name applicants must also be able to provide HKDNR with the details of two servers. These servers must be set up within one month of the submission of applications. Applicants should contact their internet service providers or web-hosting companies before registering to discuss the services required and obtain the server details.

It seems inevitable that the liberalization of domain name registration will involve an increase in cybersquatting. The new set of dispute resolution rules introduced by HKDNR aims at expediting and reducing the cost of the resolution of cybersquatting disputes. The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre has been appointed as the official arbitrator.

Details of the new rules can be accessed at www.hkdnr.net.hk.

Richard Fawcett, Bird & Bird, Hong Kong

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