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.clothing opens for business

    • Technology
    • Retail

    25-11-2013

    On 26 November 2013, .CLOTHING is going to be launched.  The launch of .CLOTHING signals the launch of numerous retail-related generic Top Level Domains (“gTLDs”) which will be rolled-out over the next 2 years as the internet undergoes a massive expansion.

    Retailers have been voicing their concerns about the expansion of the gTLD system for some time.   With the proliferation of generic domains, it will be difficult (and costly) for retailers to successfully protect all their brands in the new domains, particularly given the large number of generic retail-related domains which will be launched, including .shop, .store and .fashion.

    .CLOTHING

    As a mechanism designed to protect brand owners, all new generic domains will initially operate a limited launch - a ‘Sunrise Period’ – during which time, trade mark owners may be able to pre-register domains which correspond to their marks in the new domains, prior to the public launch of the new gTLD.

    The .CLOTHING registry will be launching its ‘Sunrise Period’ on 26 November 2013.  However, retailers must first register their marks with the Trademark Clearing House to benefit from the Sunrise Period.  Once information about trade mark registrations have been deposited with the Clearing House, retailers will then be able to take advantage of the Sunrise Period to pre-register .CLOTHING domain names.

    The .CLOTHING Sunrise Period will run until 24 January 2014.  Once closed, the .CLOTHING registry will have a ‘landrush’ or ‘easy access programme’, when interested parties can register .CLOTHING domains on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis, typically for an increased fee.

    On 5 February 2014, the public launch of .CLOTHING will take place.

    As a further step to try and assist brand owners, Donuts, the registry which is operating .CLOTHING is also providing a service whereby, once marks have been recorded at the Clearing House, brand owners can put their marks on the registry’s ‘Domains Protected Marks List’ and then any subsequent applications to register domains which are identical to or which contain the registered trade mark will be blocked.

    Way forward

    Whilst it is uncertain whether .CLOTHING (and the other new generic domains) will prove popular, it is clear that the new domains will provide fertile ground for cybersquatters.  With an estimated 600+ new commercial gTLDs rolling-out over the next 2 years, blanket protection in all the new domains will also not be a viable option for brand owners.

    Prioritising protection of your brands in the new domains will be key.  Clearly, .CLOTHING will be of most interest to clothing manufacturers and retailers.  Even if, however, you do not operate in the fashion sector, all retailers should now be:

    • prioritising the potential new gTLDs most relevant to their businesses and putting in place a domain name registration policy for the new gTLDs;
    • allocating responsibility within the business for maintaining a watching brief on developments and ensuring that brands are protected in the key gTLDs when they are rolled out and the sunrise periods start to go live; and
    • protecting their key brands in the Trademark Clearing House.