The Sun Rises on .asia

A new Top Level Domain (TLD) for the Asia-Pacific region is set to launch on 9 October 2007.

.asia will provide a region specific domain registry for the Asia-Pacific community. It is likely to be the biggest domain name launch since the 2005 release of the European .eu registry.

Aimed at what is claimed to be the world’s largest and fastest growing combined online and offline market, the release of .asia will be a major event in domain name and e-commerce circles. It will be important for businesses in the Asia Pacific region, including New Zealand and Australia, to act quickly if they want to secure .asia domain names for their business and trade marks.

To be eligible, an applicant must be a legal entity within the Asia-Pacific geographic region. This is defined broadly, and includes both New Zealand and Australia.

Eligible entities are:

  • corporations and companies
  • cooperatives, partnerships and collectives
  • government bodies, states, sovereigns and municipalities
  • political parties and trade unions • trusts, estates, associations and societies
  • institutions
  • natural persons

Sunrise Period

The sponsor organisation responsible for .asia, the DotAsia Organisation, plans a three-stage sunrise period, running from 9 October 2007 to 15 January 2008, before the .asia TLD is opened to the general public.

During Sunrise Stage 1, which starts on 9 October 2007, national government bodies can register domain names relevant to their local community, such as country, state, province or city names.

During Sunrise Stage 2(a), which runs from 9 October 2007 to 30 October 2007, owners of trade marks registered within the Asia-Pacific region before 16 March 2004 and currently in use can register domain names identical to those marks.

During Sunrise Stages 2(b), 2(c) and 3, which run from 13 November 2007 to 15 January 2008, the owners of trade marks registered within the Asia-Pacific region before 6 December 2006, and currently in use, can register domain names identical to their trade marks, or extended domain names incorporating the trade mark itself and words from the relevant description in the Nice classification system. For example, the owner of the trade mark ‘ABC’ in class 25 (clothing) could register the domain name “ABCClothing.asia”.

Registered entity names, such as company names, can also be registered during this period. The relevant name must have been registered in a country within the region before 6 December 2006 and documentary evidence of registration, such as a certificate of incorporation, must be submitted with the application.

Land Rush

A Land Rush period will follow the sunrise period. During this period, applications for domain names by the general public will be taken, providing these meet the necessary eligibility requirements. This is planned for February 2008, though exact dates are yet to be confirmed.

If multiple applications for the same domain name are received during the Land Rush period, all the applicants will be invited to take part in an auction for the domain name at the Land Rush’s conclusion, with no account taken of the order in which the applications were received.

Go-Live At the conclusion of the Land Rush period the ‘Go- Live’ phase will begin. Registrations will then be open to anyone meeting the eligibility criteria on a first-in, September 2007 Issue 033 email@baldwins.com www.baldwins.com In legal matters, no publication can take the place of professional advice. Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this publication, it should not be treated as a basis for formulating business decisions without further advice. ©2007 Baldwins. first-served basis. This is planned to start some time in March 2008, although again, an exact date is yet to be confirmed.

Conclusion

Registration costs for .asia domain names are yet to be published, but we will keep you advised as soon as any relevant information comes to hand.

Businesses operating in the Asia-Pacific marketplace should be prepared for the upcoming release of .asia. If you have not done so already, you should seriously consider the opportunities a .asia domain name offers for your business. In general, we advise seeking to register domain names in all relevant markets for your business names and most important trade marks.

The DotAsia Organisation has stated that the UDRP domain name dispute mechanism will apply to .asia domain names. However, it is also exploring the possibility of having local dispute resolution mechanisms apply when both parties to a dispute are in the same territory. We strongly recommend that you take proactive steps to protect your business name and trade marks, to avoid becoming embroiled in dispute resolution procedures if someone else registers them as domain names.

If you would like any assistance in relation to the launch of .asia, or otherwise in relation to your domain name portfolio, please do not hesitate to contact your usual advisor at Baldwins.