SGNIC releases premium domain names

Singapore
The Singapore Network Information Centre (SGNIC) has become the latest registry to announce that it would begin the release of short domain names. SGNIC planned to make available a limited number of so-called PDNs (‘premium domain names’) to registrants who applied before the end of March, with more domains to be released in further stages on a quarterly basis if there is sufficient demand.
 
SGNIC defines PDNs as:
  • single-character domain names, such as ‘a.sg’; and
  • numeric domain names - namely domain names made up of between one and 11 digits.
The base price payable to SGNIC may be up to around $16,000, depending on the domain name. For those domain names where there is more than one applicant, an auction will be held with the domain name being allocated to the highest bidder.
 
Qualifying trademark holders may claim priority, provided that certain conditions are met - for example, the trademark must be registered in Singapore and be identical to the domain name requested. Priority will enable the domain name to be registered without auction, but the base price will still be payable to SGNIC.
 
The usual registration requirements for ‘.sg’ domain names will apply and, therefore, a local administrative contact will be required.
 
Short domain names are usually very expensive on the domain name aftermarket, given that there are only a finite number of them (some have sold for over $1 million). Therefore, when they are released by registries, they are highly sought after and competition to obtain them is usually tough.
 
Nominet, the registry for ‘.uk’ domain names, has also released various one and two-character domain names under certain ‘.uk’ extensions. Nominet operated a strict release system to prevent cybersquatters from effectively gaming the system and registering trademarks specifically for the purpose of obtaining valuable domain names (for further details please see “Second sunrise for ‘.uk’ short domain names now open”). This is something that has been widely prevalent in the launch of previous domain name extensions, such as ‘.eu’. The rules appear to have had the intended effect, as the short domain names released by Nominet were mainly registered to major brand owners for genuine use, as opposed to domainers or cybersquatters with a view to a lucrative onward sale.
 
Although SGNIC has put in place a similar procedure, it is interesting to note that trademark owners claiming priority are not required to produce trademarks valid for a number of years (as did Nominet), but only trademarks valid on the date on which the application for the domain name is submitted. In addition, trademark holders will be obliged to pay the registry up to $16,000 for domain names reflecting their trademarks, which was not the case during the Nominet release.
 
David Taylor, Sean Kelly and Jane Seager, Hogan Lovells LLP, Paris 

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