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Claim your top level domain
Top level domain names are the part after the full stop such as co.uk, .gov or .org.
The top level domain name is now expanding beyond countries, government departments and organisations into more than 540 individual words such as .shop .energy or .law that will increase the number of domain names available.
As each domain name becomes available, a ‘sunrise period’ of between 30-60 days is provided where businesses with existing similar registered trade-marks to the domain name are able to obtain the domain. After the sunrise period comes the ‘land rush’ a free for all where the domain names become open to anyone.
There are fears that this will greatly expand the opportunity for cyber squatters to acquire website URLs that appear remarkably similar to legitimate businesses. This poses the risk that cyber squatters may:
- Pass themselves off as the legitimate business
- Hold legitimate businesses to ransom by threatening to publish inappropriate content or air grievances online
- Demand large sums to transfer the domain to the legitimate business
In addition, other legitimate businesses that happen to have a similar name may simply get in first with a registration.
There is a quasi-legal process established by ICANN the organisation set up to deal with domain name disputes which can avoid the need for court action. In order to succeed in that process the business complaining of cybersquatting needs to prove sufficient interest in the domain name complained of.
Owners of trademarks will find it much easier to succeed in ICANN’s dispute resolution process if they can prove their trademark is identical or confusingly similar to the domain name they are complaining about.
Without a trademark the only option is to prove that you have generated sufficient good will and reputation in the name that the owner of the infringing domain name is passing themselves off as your business. This is much more difficult to prove and requires evidence.
If the dispute resolution process fails then the only remaining option is a similar action in the courts, which will be much more expensive and time consuming.
To claim your top level domain name and prevent someone else registering it, the first step is do a WHOIS search (the ICANN website has a free tool) to see if it has already been registered and who owns it. If the domain is available then accredited registrars will compete on price to offer the domain.
For all queries on copyright issues, contact our Intellectual Property team at Tozers Solicitors on
01392 207020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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