Two more domain name spaces on the internet have opened up, giving companies further opportunities to get their name of choice, but also creating additional headaches for them trying to track the use of their trademark represented as a domain name. The two suffixes, .ac and .sh, are country-code top-level domains – for the Ascension […]
Two more domain name spaces on the internet have opened up, giving companies further opportunities to get their name of choice, but also creating additional headaches for them trying to track the use of their trademark represented as a domain name. The two suffixes, .ac and .sh, are country-code top-level domains – for the Ascension Islands and St. Helena respectively – but are being marketed as commercial domains for companies anywhere around the world. Similar commercial efforts have been made with the domains of Tonga (.to), the nearby island of Niue (.nu), and Turkmenistan (.tm), among others. The company behind these two domains is UK data processing company ICB Plc, which runs a number of domain name registries and also provides support to the United Nations Tradepoint directory program. As far as we could gather, ICB is reluctant to market these two as generic domains, a practice that can attract a lot of flak from many in the internet community that believe these country-specific TLDs should be left as just that, country- specific. And the truly generic ones, such as .com .net and.org should be supplemented with additional generic TLDs, which is one of the issues at the heart of the current controversy in internet politics. Before countries hand over control of their domain to companies like ICB, they often specify whether or not they require registrants to be located in their country. Not surprisingly, Ascension and St Helena, both situated in the South Atlantic, are two that do not. Both these domains were delegated to ICB some months ago, but it only began accepting registrations on behalf of the islands yesterday. Some big names have already registered in the .sh domain, including Federal Express, Intel and Motorola. The marketing spin on the .ac extension is for academics and students to get a shorter and more memorable address, as .ac is a common academic second level domain in countries such as the UK and Japan. ICB, aware that domain name and trademark conflicts could arise, has entered into an agreement with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva for it to provide a platform for the resolution of disputes online. At present, Network Solutions Inc (NSI) has the monopoly for .com, .net and .org under a cooperative agreement with the US government that expires September 30, after which the market is supposedly going to open up. And just as NSI uses a network of resellers to help register .com domains, so does ICB. These include, seven in the US, including alldomains.com and netnames.com and four in Japan, including domainmaster.net.