|| EnCirca in the News

"Expansion of the .US Top Level Domain"
Sunrise Applications for Trademark Owners Due
April 9

March 19, 2002
© Martin Schwimmer 2002

Martin Schwimmer is an Axiom attorney focusing on international and domestic trademark and domain name counseling, prosecution and litigation. Martin was most recently General Counsel of NameEngine, Inc., a domain name services company, and is a former partner at Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, one of the premier firms specializing in trademark counseling and protection.

.US is the United States' country code for domain names. It has been active for years, but under-utilized for a variety of reasons. Recently, the U.S. government has re-delegated management of the domain to Neustar, a private company that will attempt to aggressively expand the domain.

As with any domain expansion, .US may pose trademark infringement and/or brand dilution problems for companies. To protect brand owners, Neustar's "Sunrise Period" allows owners of a U.S. trademark registration or pending application filed prior to August of 2001 to apply for an exact version of their trademark. After expiration of the Sunrise Period, anyone can register a .US domain name on a first-come, first-served basis.

US Sunrise Procedure

The sunrise procedure for trademark owners is not complex and can be completed through a registrar, but there are some rules that need to be followed. For example, you may only apply for a domain name that exactly matches your applicable trademark (with special rules for punctuation and special characters). In addition, a random selection process will be conducted for multiple owners of the same trademark. More information on rules and procedures is available at www.nic.us.

We have investigated the various registrars offering .US Sunrise applications (not all ICANN registrars are participating, Verisign being a notable exception). The least expensive provider is Encirca, located at www.encirca.com, which is charging $90 for the mandatory five-year registration.

Note that .US was previously a locality-based system under which names were structured as follows: amazon.seattle.wa.us or axiom.nyc.ny.us. Under the new system, you can obtain a name directly under the second level domain, e.g. amazon.us. or axiom.us.

The Sunrise Period filing deadline is April 9.

If you have any questions about the Sunrise process, please contact Marty Schwimmer at mschwimmer@axiomlegal.net.

Important Note: You may have read recently that the Federal Trade Commission has enjoined sales by a domain name company selling .USA names. These are so-called alternate root names and are not approved by the domain name regulatory body, ICANN, and do not universally resolve (operate). .US is an ICANN approved top-level domain, and the names do universally resolve.