Soft launch period for '.hk' 2LDs starts next week

Hong Kong

The soft launch period for registering second-level domain names (2LDs) under the '.hk' country-code top-level domain will start on January 26 at 12:00pm. Registration of 2LDs will be available to any legal or natural person (of over 18 years) and no local Hong Kong presence is required. Registration is for a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years. There is no limit to the number of domain names that any one individual or entity can register. Existing regulations in relation to '.hk' domain names that include words such as 'bank' or 'insurance' will apply.

The soft launch period will kick off with priority registrations, which will conclude on March 19 at 12:00pm. Only owners of registered Hong Kong trademarks or service marks qualify for priority registration. Applicants for priority registration must provide (i) a copy of the trademark or service mark certificate from the Hong Kong Trademarks Registry, and (ii) a letter of declaration that they own the trademark or service mark.

If two or more entities apply for the same domain name during the priority registration period, the Hong Kong Domain Name Registration Company Limited (HKDNR) will give priority to the applicant that also has an equivalent third-level '.hk' domain name (3LD) such as 'myname.com.hk'. If more than one applicant has an equivalent 3LD, the one with the longest-standing 3LD will have priority. If none of the applicants has an equivalent 3LD, or if the equivalent 3LDs are equally long standing, priority will be decided by random draw.

Pre-registration will start on April 6 at 12:00pm and conclude on May 7 at 5:30pm. During pre-registration applications will be accepted from current holders of '.hk' 3LDs seeking to obtain the corresponding 2LD. No supporting documents will be required. If two or more entities apply for the same 2LD during that period, the HKDNR will give priority for allocation in the following order:

  • Government organizations (namely, organizations that hold the equivalent '.gov.hk' 3LD).

  • Statutory organizations under Hong Kong law. If there is more than one applicant, the one with the longest-standing equivalent 3LD will have priority.

  • All other applicants, except for applicants with the equivalent '.idv.hk' domain name. If there is more than one applicant, the one with the longest-standing equivalent 3LD will have priority.

  • Applicants with the equivalent '.idv.hk' domain name.

In relation to the second or third point, allocation will be by random draw if there is more than one applicant with an equivalent 3LD, and all 3LDs are equally long standing.

The sunrise period will start on May 17 at 12:00pm and conclude on May 28 at 5:30pm. There are no qualification requirements for the sunrise period. HKDNR will allocate any 2LD for which two or more entities have applied by random draw after the period closes.

During the soft launch period, the public may object to the allocation of a 2LD if it can provide evidence that the allocation was not made in accordance with the Soft Launch Period Rules. Objections for any other reason will not be entertained. An objection must be made within 14 days of HKDNR's announcement of the registration results for the respective tier of the soft launch period, using the objection form available on HKDNR's website.

An Objections Committee, consisting of board members of the Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation Limited and/or external parties as required, will render a decision in relation to any objections within 30 calendar days. The decisions will be final. If the committee determines that an objection is justified, it may require that HKDNR cancel a registration obtained during the soft launch period.

The official launch of 2LDs will be at 12:00pm on May 31. There will be no qualification requirements and allocation will be on a first come, first served basis.

Gabriela Kennedy and Joanne Harland, Lovells, Hong Kong

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