Australia: News Alert - Registration Of .Asia Domain Names Opening Soon

Last Updated: 2 October 2007
Article by Anthony Lloyd

From 6 October 2007, trade mark owners will have the chance to register domain names in the new '.asia' top-level domain (TLD), prior to a general release of .asia names in 2008. The domain space will open in several phases, offering opportunities in turn to government entities, owners of marks currently in use, owners of unused and newer marks, and the general public.

All applications received during any given phase will be treated as received simultaneously, with applicants applying for the same domain offered the chance to bid at auction for their desired name. Other features of the release include the independent verification of applicants by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, a more stringent accreditation process for domain name registrars and a more flexible mechanism for varying and amending applications.

It is hoped these mechanisms will minimise the opportunity for cybersquatting and similar problems that have been encountered during previous TLD launches, such as the opening of the '.eu' namespace in 2005-06.

Who is eligible?

The domain will be open to all legal entities (including natural persons, partnerships and corporations) located or with a presence in ICANN's 'Asia/Australia/Pacific' region, currently comprising 73 countries. To qualify, at least one of the 'domain contacts' for a given application – namely, the registrant or the administrative, technical or billing contact – must be a legal entity within the region.

The registration process

The .asia TLD will open in an incremental fashion over six phases before it goes 'live' in final form in 2008. As part of the application process, the legitimacy of early phase applicants will be verified by consultants Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu before their application can proceed.

Deloitte will be empowered to request documentary evidence for an applicant's standing to apply. Where multiple applicants seek the same domain name, a centrally-managed auction mechanism will enable applicants to bid for the domain, once all early-stage applications have been received. It is thought this will prevent fast-moving cybersquatters excluding legitimate applicants from their desired domains, while allowing legitimate applicants to place their own value on contested domains.

Why register?

Registration in the .asia domain is a useful way to assert an association with the region that extends beyond national borders. It also provides an opportunity to register an identity independent of existing categorisations such as 'company' (.com), 'organisation' (.org) or 'network' (.net) – the three most common TLDs to date.

Experience from the .eu domain, launched in 2005-06 as regional alternative to local country code domains ('.uk', '.de', etc) in the European Union, suggests that while most entities will not abandon their local country-based websites, many will find it useful to also register in the new regional TLD. This might be to protect goodwill at the regional level, to operate a portal redirecting customers to websites in their local area, or to operate new, distinctly regional, websites differing in look and feel from an organisation's existing country-specific presence. Whatever the incentive, the existence of an 'early-bird' registration process provides interested parties access to an orderly registration process which minimises the potential for abuse by cybersquatters and domain name speculators.

The timeline




Sunrise 1: Government Domains

  • For government entities.
  • Governments and related bodies can activate domains reserved in the pre-Sunrise period.
  • opens 6 Oct 2007.
  • continues through Landrush phase.
  • Sunrise 2a: Early Bird Sunrise

    • For long standing trade marks currently in use.
    • Mark must have been applied for on or before 16 March 2004.
    • Mark must be registered and in full force and effect.
    • Mark must have demonstrable use.
    • All applications treated as received simultaneously, with conflicting applicants invited to bid at auction.
  • opens 6 Oct 2007.
  • closes 30 Oct 2007.
  • Sunrise 2b: General Registered Marks

    • For newer trade marks and marks not currently in use.
    • Mark must have been applied for on or before 6 December 2006.
    • Mark must be in full force and effect.
    • All applications treated as received simultaneously, with conflicting applicants invited to bid at auction.
  • opens 13 Nov 2007.
  • closes 15 Jan 2008.
  • Sunrise 2c: Extended Protection

    • For combinations of a trade mark with other words.
    • Mark must be one which qualifies under Sunrise phase 2a or 2b.
    • Domain can be the mark combined with any relevant word(s) from the applicable mark's class title, subtitle or description under the Nice classification system.
  • opens 13 Nov 2007.
  • closes 15 Jan 2008.
  • Sunrise 3: Registered Entity Names

    • For the names of registered companies, societies and other organisations.
    • The entity must have been registered before 6 December 2006.
  • opens 13 Nov 2007.
  • closes 15 Jan 2008.
  • Landrush and Go Live

    • For general applications.
    • Must meet the Charter Eligibility requirements.
    • Going forward, applications processed on a first come, first served basis.
  • Dates to be confirmed.
  • Landrush is targeted for Feb 2008.
  • Go live is targeted for Mar 2008.
  • The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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