Trademark

The .Asia domain launched under a ‘sunrise policy’


The DotAsia Organization, an umbrella organization of various national top-level domain registries around Asia (including .IN in India), has launched the global “.Asia” Internet domain for the Asia region under a sunrise policy which gives a preference to trademark owners and celebrities. (Press release available here)

Most domain name launches are a nightmare for trademark owners and celebrities since it means protecting their trademark and identity in yet another jurisdiction. More troubling for them however is the fact that most of the domain names registration occur on a first come first serve basis. This usually means that cyber-squatters grab up domain names of famous trademark and later attempt to sell it to the very same trademark owners for an obscene price. This menace has been effectively countered by the various Domain Name Dispute Resolution Bodies set up ICANN and national registries. However this still does come at quite a price with just the administration fees coming up to about $1500 plus lawyer fees. This when buying a domain name costs lest than $10.

The DotAsia organization however announced a ‘sunrise policy’ for the .Asia launch. This policy gives a first preference to trademark owners and businesses. The organization has also launched a Celebrity Pioneers Program whereby it gives preference to celebrities to register their domain names before the process is opened to the general public. This was undoubtedly a smart publicity move since Kapil Dev who has lost all his other domain names was one of the celebrities to grace this event because he definitely did not want to lose out on yet another domain name.

While I’m sure that trademark owners are breathing a huge sigh of relief at this new policy there is always the other side of the argument – the right to free speech. The internet is crucial to our trade and commerce but there is also the point that the internet is also a platform for people to share ideas and thoughts and criticisms. What if I want to start a website which is a parody of a famous trademark or a celebrity? Parodies are a valid exception to trademark and copyright rights. Under the first come first serve policy all parties have an equal right to grab the domain name of their choice but under the ‘sunrise policy’ the general public is automatically relegated to second class citizens.

However at the end of the day most people would consider the ‘sunrise policy’ a reasonable policy since it will save millions in litigation expenses.
Prashant Reddy

Prashant Reddy

T. Prashant Reddy graduated from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, with a B.A.LLB (Hons.) degree in 2008. He later graduated with a LLM degree (Law, Science & Technology) from the Stanford Law School in 2013. Prashant has worked with law firms in Delhi and in academia in India and Singapore. He is also co-author of the book Create, Copy, Disrupt: India's Intellectual Property Dilemmas (OUP).

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