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The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has begun accepting applications for two of the new Internet top-level domain names (TLDs), “.info” and “.biz.” While these new TLDs afford companies more options for presenting themselves on the Internet, they also provide fertile ground for cybersquatters (people who purchase domain names and then offer them to their rightful owners at inflated prices) and new battlegrounds for companies that use the same or similar trademarks for different types of goods and services. The two new registries — Afilias, the registry for .info, and Neulevel, the registry for .biz — take different approaches protecting applicants’ intellectual property rights in different ways. Knowing what to expect is critical to being able to take advantage of each registry’s protections. THE ‘.INFO’ APPLICATION PROCESS Afilias describes .info as the most expansive and inclusive of the new gTLDs because “the Internet is synonymous with information and the benefits that come with having more information.” Domain names with “.info” suffixes will be available for any purpose, to anyone, including businesses, individuals, public groups, brands, government agencies and facilities. Afilias intends for “.info” to compete directly with “.com,” and predicts that it will register more than 75 million .info domain names by 2003. Afilias will give the owners of registered trademarks a 30-day “Sunrise Period” — currently set to begin in late June — during which they will have the opportunity to preregister .info domain names for their marks. To be eligible for the Sunrise Period, an applicant’s trademark must have been registered in the U.S. or in any other country prior to Oct. 2, 2000. Applications for .info domain names must be for textual or word elements that are identical to the registered trademark. During the Sunrise Period, Afilias will collect applications from registrars (like Network Solutions) in batches and randomly process domain name applications on a round-robin basis so that no registrar is disadvantaged. Afilias will run a “Sunrise Challenge Period” during the 120 days immediately following the last day of the .info Sunrise Period. The Sunrise Challenge Period currently is set to run from late July to late November. During the Sunrise Challenge Period, third parties will have the opportunity to challenge Sunrise applications. These disputes will be administered exclusively by the World Intellectual Property Association in special administrative proceedings using a Sunrise Dispute Resolution Policy. If a challenger wins the administrative proceeding, the domain name applicant will forfeit the domain name and the challenger will have the opportunity to apply for the domain name under the Sunrise Provisions. After a 15-day “Cooling Off” period following the end of the Sunrise Period, Afilias will begin a “Start-Up Period,” currently set to begin mid-August, during which it will accept applications from anyone. During the Start-Up Period, Afilias will collect applications from registrars in batches and randomly process domain name applications on a round-robin basis so that no registrar is disadvantaged. The Start-Up Period will last for approximately three weeks; it is currently scheduled to run through early September. Following the Start-Up Period, registrars will accept and process .info applications on a real-time basis as they come in. THE ‘.BIZ’ APPLICATION PROCESS Starting in early July, entities will have the opportunity to register .biz domain names for commercial use. However, the .biz registry, Neulevel, will not verify that each domain name is that of an existing business. Unlike Afilias, Neulevel will not have a Sunrise Period to allow trademark owners to pre-register domain names. However, Neulevel will offer a fee-based notification service as an initial protection mechanism for trademark owners. A trademark owner can submit information about its trademark registration, application or use, and Neulevel will include that information in its “IP Claim” database. Currently, Neulevel is planning to charge $90 per mark for this service. Neulevel will accept submissions for filing in the notification service from May 21 to July 9. Submissions to the notification service will not constitute a domain name registration under .biz; anyone wishing to actually register a .biz domain name will need to do so separately. If a third party applies to register a domain name that is the same as a mark on the IP Claim database, Neulevel will notify the domain name applicant that the proposed domain name is the same as the registered trademark. If the domain name applicant chooses to continue with its application, Neulevel then will notify the trademark owner. The domain name application will be “frozen” for a 30-day cooling-off period, and the trademark owner will have the opportunity to challenge the domain name application in an administrative proceeding conducted pursuant to Neulevel’s Start-Up Trademark Opposition Policy. Following the Start-up Intellectual Property Claim Service period, Neulevel will have a Domain Name Application Phase, currently set to begin in early July and run through Sept. 25. During this phase, registrars will accept initial .biz applications and submit them to Neulevel. Over the next five days, Neulevel will process these applications in random order. After the .biz registry goes live — something that currently is planned for Oct. 1 — applications will be processed on a real-time basis as they are received by the registrars. For more information, visit www. afilias.com (.info) and www.neulevel. com (.biz). Vivian Polak is a partner in the New York office of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, where she heads the i-Business Department. She is also editor-in-chief of this newsletter. E-mail: [email protected] Jonathan A. Damon is a senior associate in the firm’s New York office, where he specializes in i-Business and litigation.

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