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Client Alert - New Domain Name .US

02.27.2002

Billed as 'America's Internet Address', .US domain names are now being marketed as a way to establish a uniquely American identity. Previously, these domain names were only available in a third-level domain name format (e.g., <www.company.city.state.us>). Now, for the first time, .US registrations are being made available at the second level, like the familiar .com, .net and .org names (e.g., <www.company.us>).

The sunrise registration period for .US domain names is scheduled to run through April 16. During this period, owners of trademark registrations and applications filed before July 27, 2001 on the Principal Register of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will be given priority in registering .US domain names. Live registration will follow the sunrise registration period.

Restricted Nature of TLD

.US domain names are restricted to U.S. citizens, residents and businesses and foreign entities that have a bona fide presence in the U.S. There are no restrictions on use of .US domain names.

Registration Process

.US domain names will be administered by NeuStar, but you may apply to register a .US domain name through several select registrars. So far, at least 29 registrars have been chosen to process .US registrations.

The sunrise registration period, which was recently extended, will run from March 4 through April 16. To qualify for a sunrise registration, the applied for domain name must be identical to the word elements of the applicant's trademark or service mark as it appears in the corresponding application or registration. Special characters (e.g., *, &, @ or punctuation marks) must be left out or replaced by hyphens. For example, MP3.com can become MP3com or MP3-com. Barnes & Noble can be registered as Barnesnoble or Barnes-noble. In the case of conflicting sunrise applications, domain names will be awarded through a random selection process. Sunrise domain names will be registered for terms of at least 5 years.

Starting around April 24, real-time registration is scheduled to begin, and domain names awarded during the sunrise registration period will go live. Domain names will then be awarded on a first-come, first serve basis for periods of 2–10 years.

The fee for registering a .US domain name varies by registrar, but will likely be consistent with the fees charged for already existing domain names. For additional fees, many registrars are offering special services geared toward increasing an applicant's chances of obtaining a coveted domain name during the sunrise and open registration periods.

Dispute Resolution

Since .US is a country code domain name—and not a generic domain name—it is not subject to ICANN's rules and its Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (known as the 'UDRP'). NeuStar is expected to announce its policy for challenges to bad faith registrations at a later date.

There is, however, a dispute resolution procedure to challenge the U.S. nexus requirement already in place.

Our Experience

Our firm has particular experience in helping trademark owners register, organize and manage domain names, and we welcome the opportunity to assist you in preparing for new domain names as they become available. If you have any questions regarding the .US domain names, or domain names generally, please do not hesitate to contact us.

For more information, please contact Meichelle MacGregor
Copyright 2002, Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, P.C.

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