Chinese <.hk> domain names
Hong Kong Domain Name Registration Company Limited (HKDNR) is soon to introduce Chinese language .hk domain names in the following categories: .hk, .個人.hk, .公司.hk, .組織.hk, .網絡.hk, .政府.hk and .教育.hk (which correspond to .hk, .idv.hk, .com.hk, .org.hk, .net.hk, .gov.hk and .edu.hk, respectively).
It will be possible to register .hk Chinese Domain Names in simplified and traditional character forms as well as in a combination of both. Chinese Domain Names may also contain English letters, numbers or symbols. A .hk Chinese Domain Name registration will cover all character variations of the subject domain name. For example, the registration of ‘遊戲.hk’ will also cover and preclude the simultaneous registration by a third party of ‘遊戲.hk’, ‘游戏.hk’, ‘游戲.hk’ and ‘遊戏.hk’.
HKDNR is introducing a three-tiered priority period known as the 'Soft Launch Period', during which .hk Chinese Domain Names will be allocated to applicants not on the usual 'first come first served basis', but rather on the basis of prior trade mark and/or English <.hk> domain name registrations or on the basis of a random draw. Applications received during each phase of the Soft Launch Period will be processed together and allocated in accordance with the special requirements and procedures set out in the Soft Launch Period Rules (which supplement the original Rules). At the end of each phase of the Soft Launch Period, the allocation results for that phase will be announced and members of the public will be given an opportunity to file objections before the registrations become effective. Dispute resolution services will be provided during the Soft Launch Period.
Soft Launch Period
Priority Period: 28 September - 10 November 2006*
During the Priority Period, owners of Hong Kong registered trade marks containing one or more Chinese characters will be entitled to apply for a .hk Chinese Domain Name. Where two or more eligible trade mark owners apply for the same .hk Chinese Domain Name, priority will be given to the applicant holding an English <.hk> domain name in the same domain name category, or the applicant whose English <.hk> domain name has the earliest priority date. Where none of the applicants has an English <.hk> domain name in the same domain name category, the allocation will be made by random draw.
Pre-registration Period: 4 December 2006 to 5 January 2007*
During the Pre-Registration Period, holders of English <.hk> domain names will be entitled to apply for a .hk Chinese Domain Name in the same category as their existing English domain name. Where two or more holders of English <.hk> domain names apply for the same Chinese Domain Name, priority will be given to the applicant whose intended .hk Chinese Domain Name is sufficiently similar, phonetically or semantically, to its registered English <.hk> domain name. Evidence of sufficient similarity, having regard to criteria specified in the Soft Launch Period Rules, will need to be submitted at the time of making an application. Where two or more eligible domain name holders apply for the same .hk Chinese Domain Name, priority will be given to the applicant whose application is based on the English <.hk> domain name having the earliest priority date.
Sunrise Period: 29 January 2007 - 9 February 2007*
During the Sunrise Period, anyone may apply for a .hk Chinese Domain Name. The allocation of all .hk Chinese Domain Names applied for during the sunrise period will be by random draw.
Who should register a Chinese Domain Name?
All brand owners with a presence in the PRC or Hong Kong should consider applying to register a .hk Chinese Domain Name to reflect their brand in Chinese. At the conclusion of the Soft Launch Period, on or around 8 March 2007, the registration of .hk Chinese Domain Names will be open to the public. Registration of .hk Chinese Domain Names by eligible applicants during the Soft Launch Period is therefore recommended to protect brand owners against the potential hi-jacking of their names and trade marks by cyber squatters.
© Gabriela Kennedy and Sarah Doyle
Lovells, Hong Kong
The authors are partner and foreign legal assistant practising in the IP/TMT group of Lovells, Hong Kong
* Dates are subject to change by HKDNR
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.