In 2008, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
("ICANN"), the non-profit organization
responsible for creating and maintaining internet domains, approved
a program to create new generic top level domains
("gTLD"). In response, an international
consortium of financial institutions, financial services trade
associations and insurance companies founded fTLD Registry
Services, LLC ("fTLD") to obtain
ownership of the .bank and
.insurance gTLDs. In May 2012, fTLD submitted
applications for the community-based gTLDs and was officially
granted authority to operate .bank on September
25, 2014, and .insurance on February 19, 2015.
fTLD has since developed guidelines setting out eligibility
requirements for the .bank gTLD, with similar
guidelines expected soon with respect to the
Only verified members of the banking community are eligible to
register for a .bank gTLD. Such members
state, regional and provincial banks and savings associations
that are chartered and supervised by a government regulatory
service providers principally owned by such banks or savings
associations, on approval by the registry operator board of fTLD;
associations composed of state, regional, provincial and
national banks, on approval by the registry operator board of
In addition to meeting the organizational requirements set out
above, registrants must also comply with dozens of enhanced
security requirements and processes. These include real-time abuse
monitoring, multi-factor authentication, distributed denial of
service (DDoS) protection and encryption practices with at least a
30-year security strength timeframe. Registrants must also agree to
abide by fTLD's acceptable use and prohibited activities
policies and re-validate their "WHOIS" information on a
semi-annual basis. As a result of fTLD's increased operational
costs for verifying and authenticating applicants, the cost for
registering a .bank gTLD is higher than other
conventional domain names.
Note that the Bank Act prohibits any person or entity
other than a bank regulated by OSFI to use the word
"bank" to indicate a financial services business in
Canada. Accordingly, if OSFI finds an entity using a
.bank gTLD in contravention of that prohibition
(which may also constitute a criminal offence), the entity would be
required to relinquish its .bank gTLD irrespective
of the costs involved.
Currently, fTLD has established a sunrise period to register a
.bank gTLD, ending on June 17, 2015. To be
eligible, in addition to the requirements described above, the
associated trade-mark must already be registered federally and with
ICANN's Trademark Clearinghouse. At the end of the sunrise
period, fTLD's founding members will be given a five day period
to register their domains.
On June 23, 2015, the .bank gTLD will be open
to all eligible members of the global banking community granted on
a first-come, first-served basis.
While there are considerable compliance and regulatory hurdles,
a .bank or .insurance gTLD may
carry significant competitive advantages for financial
institutions, including innovative marketing opportunities through
defined branding with a global scope, enhanced security as a result
of fTLD's authentication and eligibility requirements and
reduced risk of "typosquatting" (whereby a party
registers a domain name with a common misspelling of your web
address) and "cybersquatting" (whereby a party registers
your trade-name or acronym as a web address in bad faith, hoping to
then sell it to you at an inflated price).
The foregoing provides only an overview and does not
constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any
decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal
advice should be obtained.
The British Columbia Court of Appeal has recently considered whether the doctrine of unconscionability can be invoked to set aside a contractual clause providing for the payment by one party to the other...
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