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Litigation Expert Warns On New Domain Names

Organisations' Intellectual Property At Risk


A leading litigation lawyer has warned businesses to review the hundreds of applications for new domain name endings in order to protect themselves from a potential intellectual property infringement.

James Wellburn from the Birmingham office of national law firm, Irwin Mitchell, believes that many organisations are unaware of the imminent changes to website addresses and is concerned that many could therefore miss out on their opportunity to object.

In June 2012, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) agreed to increase the number of domain name endings (otherwise known as TLDs) in what has been described as the “largest expansion in the history of the Internet’s Domain Name System”.

Whilst TLDs have traditionally mainly been linked to countries, for example, .com for the USA/International and .co.uk for the UK, ICANN has allowed applications from parties wishing to utilise their own ending to a domain name (gTLD).

1,930 new gTLD applications were received which included Apple Inc applying to use .apple, meaning they could conceivably utilise the web address of www.ipad.apple, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc applying to register .asda, which may lead to web addresses such as www.shopping.asda.

James Wellburn said: “The challenge to businesses with this opening-up of domain names is that they need to ensure that the proposed gTLDs do not infringe their existing intellectual property rights or conflict with existing domain names that they own.

“ICANN launched a 60-day ‘comment period’ in June allowing anyone in the world to submit comments on any application. If any business objects, they have a period of seven months to file a formal objection.”