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Singapore – gTLDs Update: Implications For Trade Mark Owners.

19 May, 2012

 

Legal News & Analysis – Asia Pacific – Singapore – Intellectual Property

 

There are currently only 22 generic top level domains (gTLDs) in the world. A top level domain is the last part of a domain name (e.g. .com). 

 
In 2011, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN") approved a programme to expand the domain name system by allowing organisations to apply for their own gTLDs (e.g. .apple), and manage a registry of all second level domains within that gTLD (e.g. .computers.apple). 
 
Trade mark owners should be aware of the increased opportunities for typosquatting and cybersquatting which the new gTLD regime brings. The risk of bad faith registrations of infringing domain names are increased with the approval of each new gTLD. 
 
In the September 2011 edition of IP Pulse, we reported that the application submission period for gTLDs closed on 12 April 2012.  As of 12 April 2012 when ICANN's gTLD Application System was taken offline, there were at least 1200 applicants for 2091 new gTLDs. 
 
ICANN had earlier announced that the list of gTLD applications would be published on its website on 30 April 2012. However, the publication of the list of applications has been delayed as a result of technical difficulties faced by ICANN. 
 
Trade mark owners should take steps to ensure that their marks are not diluted or misused by the new gTLDs. This can be done by auditing the list of applications which will be published by ICANN, to determine if any of the proposed gTLDs conflict with or infringe their existing trade mark rights. 
 
Trade mark owners may submit comments on applied-for gTLDs, including concerns regarding potential trade mark infringement and dilution. These comments will be considered by the independent evaluators assessing each gTLD application.  As of now, the deadline to submit comments is 30 June 2012. There is a possibility that this date may change due to the delay in publication of the list of applied-for gTLDs. 
 
Trade mark owners will also have a window of 7 months from the date of the publication of the list of gTLD applications, to file formal objections against gTLD applications that infringe their rights. Such objections may be on the grounds of (i) string confusion, (ii) legal rights, (iii) limited public interest, and (iv) community.  The objections are to be filed with independent Dispute Resolution Service Providers appointed by ICANN. 
 
 

 

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