A 2014 study found that India has one of the lowest levels of Internet penetration in the Asia Pacific region, at just 17.4%. Apart from poor internet infrastructure, one of the factors contributing to this is the lack of efforts made in adapting the Internet to the vast non-English speaking population of India.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) had recognized the need to make the internet accessible in more languages and had made Internationalised Domain Names (that is, Domain Names in non-Latin scripts) available to governments back in 2011. Three years later, the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) has now decided to release Internationalised Domain Names in seven Indian Languages, under the management of the INRegistry (the Registry that maintains the ‘.in’ Domain Name). That is, website owners can now choose not only ‘.in’, but also from .भारत (Devnagiri), .భారత్ (Telugu), .بھارت (urdu), etc.
Releasing new gTLDs comes with it the risk of attracting cybersquatters, that is, people or entities who buy up these gTLDs and then profit from them by licensing them to companies. This is especially problematic when the gTLD is identical or similar to a trademark or if it is likely to harm the public interest. Some of our readers might remember that in June 2012, Reliance had applied for the gTLD ‘.indians’ (presumably to build upon the IPL Team ‘Mumbai Indians’ brand). India had opposed this application on the grounds that a private party offering the ‘.indians’ gTLD as an alternative to ‘.in’ which is managed by the Government, would lead to deception and confusion. Further, it was cited that the similarity between ‘.in’ and ‘.indians’ would have the potential to be used nefariously. It has recently come to light that Reliance has withdrawn its application for the gTLD.
To avoid cybersquatting, the INRegistry has launched a ‘sunrise period’ (starting August 15th, 2014) to give trademark holders a chance to apply for these ‘desi’ gTLDs. From 18th November onwards, the new gTLDs will be available to the public for registration.
Click here for more details regarding registration, etc.