“Sunrise” Period for Trademark Owners to Seek New Domains Now Open

The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the not-for-profit entity which administers top-level domain names, has approved the first wave of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) for release. This triggers a 30-day “Sunrise Period” during which trademark holders can register their marks in the new domains.

A top-level domain name (TLD) is the part of a domain name found to the right of the last dot.  It can be a “generic” TLD such as .com. or .net or a country code such as .uk.

Before 2013, there were only 22 gTLDs.  Now, more than 1000 new gTLDs are expected to be available soon.

The new gTLDs include names designated in Arabic, Chinese, and Russian characters.

In order to take advantage of the Sunrise Period opportunity, trademark holders must register their marks with the Trademark Clearinghouse.

Registration with the Trademark Clearinghouse gives trademark owners the first option to purchase domain names in the new gTLDSs that match their trademarks.  During the Sunrise Period and for 60 days afterward, anyone who attempts to register a domain name for a mark that is already registered with the Trademark Clearinghouse will receive a notice that the mark has already been registered.  If the applicant then proceeds to attempt to register the domain name, the Trademark Clearinghouse will send a notice to the trademark holder.

The system only works with exact matches.  Thus, a trademark owner will not be notified if a mark is only deceptively similar but not identical.

After the Sunrise period, domain names in the new gTLDs will be available for sale to the general public.

  • The Sunrise Period ends January 24, 2014 for the following gTLDs:  .bike, .clothing, .guru, .holdings, .plumbing, .singles, and .ventures.
  • The Sunrise Period closes January 31, 2014 for .camera, .equipment, .estate, .gallery, .graphics, .lighting, and .photography.
  • The Sunrise Period closes February 7, 2014 for .construction, .contractors, .directory, .kitchen, .land, .technology, and .today. 
  • The Sunrise Period ends February 14, 2014 for .diamonds, .enterprise, .tips, and .voyage.

Registration with the Trademark Clearinghouse takes up to 21 days, so it’s advisable for trademark owners to move quickly if they wish to take advantage of the Sunrise Period for any of the above gTLDs.

Stay up-to-date on the latest Intellectual Property Law news from Sheldon Mak & Anderson.

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