UK: Launch Of Arabic Top Level Domain Names Marks The True Launch Of Internationalised Domain Names

Last Updated: 4 September 2012
Article by Rob Deans and Harriet Balloch

On 13 June 2012, details of 1,930 applications for new top-level domain name extensions (strings) were released by ICANN, the body responsible for the management of domain names. Included in these applications are 116 non-Latin script strings, or what are commonly known as internationalised domain names (IDNs). The introduction of these top-level IDNs will make the Internet much more accessible to users who are only literate in Arabic (and other languages which do not use Latin characters), and in many ways, this marks the true launch of IDNs.

With over 200 million native Arabic speakers and over 800 million native Chinese speakers, the impact on businesses who wish to communicate with a global audience will be very significant indeed.  Brand owners should review their trade mark registration and protection strategies to ensure that they have appropriate protection for foreign language versions of their key trade marks.

Applications for new strings

The introduction of new top-level strings is set to expand the existing infrastructure of the Internet from 22 top-level strings (including .com and .org) to many hundreds, including:

  • IDN strings (.com and other top level strings in Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic and other non-Latin scripts)
  • Branded strings (.amazon, .apple, .citi and .mcdonalds)
  • Community strings (.bank, .hotel, .islam and .tennis)
  • Generic strings (.app, .cloud, .music, .tickets, .you and .weather)
  • Geographic strings (.nyc, .dubai and .abudhabi)

Much of the commentary about the introduction of new top-level strings has been focused on the decisions of international brand owners to apply (or not) for their own top-level domains (in the form of .brand).  However, the range of strings applied for covers a much broader range than simply a number of specific brands, with IDNs potentially being one of the areas where the biggest impact will be felt.

Local language strings (IDNs)

An IDN is a domain name which contains non-Latin script characters, such as those used in Arabic, Chinese, Russian or Japanese.  It has been possible to register partial IDNs since as early as 1998, which include non-Latin script characters before the dot, and Latin characters are after the dot (such as 纯水.com). 

This was followed, in 2009, by the introduction of country level IDNs, such as السعودية. (.saudi) and امارات. (.emarat). 

Unsurprisingly, however, the uptake of country level IDNs has been relatively slow, presumably reflecting the fact that, even in the English language, brand owners often prefer to engage with users through top-level (.com) websites, rather than at a country level (.ae or .sa).  In the Middle East, it can be administratively time consuming to register country level domain names, which may also have played a role in the relatively low uptake of country level IDNs. 

The launch of the new IDNs has the potential to shake up the way the Internet is navigated in non-Latin script languages.  For example, a brand owner who wishes to reach an audience across the Middle East, will be able to do so through a fully Arabic website, which includes a top-level Arabic language website address.  Previously, the only option has been to communicate through a website with a .com address or through a country-level, Arabic language address (eg امارات. .emarat). 

New top-level IDNs 

Applications have been filed for top-level Arabic IDNs, including:

  • International Domain Registry Pty Ltd for شبكة. (translation of .web);
  • VeriSign Sarl for كوم. (transliterations of .com); and
  • Suhub Electronic Establishments for موقع. (translation of .site).

Over time, it is reasonable to expect that one of these IDNs will become the dominant leader in the market, with users defaulting to one of these strings when they are looking for a particular website (just as users current default to .com websites).

Of the three entities which have applied to register top-level Arabic IDNs, Verisign has also applied to register in other languages (such as Chinese, Japanese and Cyrillic).  This will be a major investment by Verisign as it seeks to obtain the rights to transliterations of .com in multiple languages.

Impact of top-level IDNs

It appears likely that the applicants of the new top-level IDNs will compete to promote their IDNs with consumers and website operators alike, with over time, one IDN (per language) becoming more dominant than the others. 

In the interim, brand owners will need to decide whether to register domain names for:

  • the specific IDNs that they anticipate will become the equivalent of the .com in each non-Latin script; or
  • multiple IDNs, on the basis that only time will tell which of the IDNs will become dominant. 

Regardless of which strategy is adopted, it is important for brand owners to review their trade mark protection in Arabic and other non-Latin languages.  This protection is likely to become increasingly important as the use of Arabic and other non-Latin languages becomes more prevalent with the introduction of IDNs (regardless of which IDNs are more successful).

Timing and processes

The new strings are unlikely to be launched before mid 2013 because, before the applications are formally approved by ICANN they will first be subjected to a comments and objections phase. 

ICANN is taking steps to protect brand owners by requiring the companies which have secured rights to the new top-level domains to:

  • implement a 'sunrise' registration period to provide brand owners with a window of priority to register domain names before the registration process is opened to the public; and
  • participate in a trade mark clearing house to enable brand owners to record trade marks and receive notifications of proposed registrations of domain names which incorporate their marks. 

With potentially hundreds of new top-level strings available, it is unfeasible for brand owners to secure defensive registrations across all of these new strings.  Brand owners should therefore focus their domain name registration strategy on the top-level domains which are most relevant to their businesses.  For brand owners with a global or regional presence, a focus on IDNs may be appropriate.

Brand owners should also ensure that they are in a position to take effective enforcement action in relation to the unauthorised use of local language translations and transliterations of trade marks.  It is important in this context to note that, in many countries, the registration of an English language trade mark does not automatically provide protection for the corresponding Arabic language mark.

Securing trade mark protection in Arabic and other non-Latin script languages is a key step for brand owners in being able to take effective action to prevent the third parties from mis-using their trade marks in foreign languages, whether as part of a domain name registration, on a website or in some other form.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.