|Chris Chaplow at ICANN Brussels|
Whether you have invested in domains, or just a have a few to support your business or professional activity, domains must be looked after as carefully as if they were car registration documents.
Did you know that the whole legal concept of owning a domain is still not precise? What exactly do you own? The rights to use a certain piece of ‘real estate' in a zone of the DNS (Domain Name System) of the internet for a specified length of time, as long as the higher level (.com etc) exists.
Along with rights, there are also obligations. A domain registrant certifies not to infringe a registered or common law trademark anywhere in the world.
Established businesses have to decide whether to pursue an infringing domain registration (website) using the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) for $1500, or make defensive registrations of domains they do not need for $50. But where do you stop?
Peter Dengate-Thrush, chairman of the ICANN board, once said in reply to complaints about the increasing cost of registrations. "There is nothing new about trademark holders having to spend money to protect their trademark. There is no right for the owner of something not to have to spend money to protect it."
The position is getting more complex all the time because the domainer (domain trading) industry is growing, Google provide a free infrastructure to monitise parked domains and the number of top levels in which to register is growing exponentially.
Where can I register a domain?
There are probably more places than you would expect.
.com: By far the most sought-after is .com, with 80 million registrations. There are no common generic words available, very few five-letter strings unregistered. The secondary sales and auction market is very strong.
.info .net, .org .biz .mobi .tel .name: One of the other freely available top-level generic domains.
.aero .travel .asia .pro .cat .jobs: Zones that require ‘membership' of a group will have more strings available.
.es .de .eu .ie : Two-letter country codes from ISO 3166. There are 250 to choose from, see a full list here. Some require a genuine base in that country, while others permit an ‘agent' to represent an overseas registrant. Some countries offer, or oblige, registrations in a special second level such as .co.uk .com.es .org.es
.me .fm .tv .co: Vanity use of the two letter country codes mentioned above.
uk.com ae.org cn.com de.com gb.com hu.com spain.com are alternate domains. They look ‘official' but are actually registrations below another registrant's domain. Opportunities but without ICANN protection.
.рф امارات. السعودية. .中国 .香港 .台湾 International domains in non-Latin script are currently being introduced. Initially these are allocated on country basis with .emirates .saudi, .egypt, .russia .china .hong kong .taiwan leading the way. Registration has openend for trademark holders.
.xxx The controversial new zone is probably going to be the next to be introduced. Pre- registration is underway. See other article in this newsletter.
.anything In 2011 application will open for anybody to apply for a top level domain. This will open the way for another 500 to 1000 top levels to register in. .hotel .eco .green .sport .nyc
How can I protect my existing domain?
Domain hijack is a problem. The first you will know is when your website and email stopsworking. This can be prevented by following careful procedures and understanding the varying terms and practices of the different registrars.
Here is some simple advice if you are managing your own domains.
* Ensure the domain is "registrar locked" and renewed in plenty of time.
* Additional security pre-transfer security procedures are offered by some registrars.
* The domain "registrant" has the highest authority in the event of a dispute or hijack, ensure this information is the correct company or personal name.
* If you forget to renew a domain (because the notice was sent to an old email address) it can still be recovered in a 40-day ‘redemption period'.
* Keep up-to-date on ICANN policy which affects registrants.
Andalucia Web Solutions offer a full domain registration and domain management service. Call us now to discuss your requirements.