The Hong Kong Domain Name Registration Company ("HKDNR") announced details regarding the launch of Chinese .hk domain names in Hong Kong, which include the Chinese equivalent of the current 7 categories of .hk domain name. It began with a "soft launch" at the end of September 2006. Qualified individuals and entities can now register Chinese .hk domain names. Download PDF to see examples.

The "soft launch" for Chinese .hk domain name consists of three periods and applications received during these periods will not be processed on a first-come-first-serve basis:

1. Priority Registration Period - a period of approximately 6 weeks (ending on November 10, 2006) during which owners of trademarks registered in Hong Kong are eligible to apply for a Chinese .hk domain name that comprises of or contains all of the Chinese characters appearing in their trademarks registered in Hong Kong. To support a priority application, an applicant will need to submit: (a) a copy of the trademark certificate issued by the Hong Kong Trade Marks Registry, and (b) a standard letter of declaration confirming the applicant’s ownership of the said Hong Kong trademark.

2. Pre-Registration Period - a period of approximately 4 weeks (starting from December 4, 2006 till January 5, 2007) during which current holders of a qualifying .hk domain name are eligible to apply for a Chinese .hk domain name in the equivalent category. A qualifying .hk domain name means a .hk domain name that was applied for on or before September 14, 2006. No documentary proof is required to support an application but applicants must have a valid password for the qualifying .hk domain names as proof of eligibility to apply during this period.

3. Sunrise Period - a period of approximately 2 weeks (starting from January 29, 2007 till February 9, 2007) during which any individual or entity who wishes to register a Chinese .hk domain name before the general launch on February 10, 2007 (exact date to be confirmed) may apply. No documentary proof is required to support an application and all applications received will be processed together in one batch. A random draw will be used to allocate a Chinese .hk domain name subject to two or more applications received during this period.

HKDNR has issued special rules to resolve competing applications for Chinese .hk domain names received during each soft launch period. An Objections’ Committee has also been set up to handle objections against the allocation of any Chinese .hk domain names during the soft launch.

Chinese .hk domain names are important intellectual property assets and very effective marketing tools for the Greater China market. If you are interested in registering your Chinese .hk domain names during the soft launch, or would like assistance in other issues relating to your .hk or Chinese character domain name portfolio, please let us know and we will be glad to help.

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.