Client Alert: Don't Lose Your Bank's Domain to a Competitor
- May 2015 (Registered with Trademark Clearinghouse): Apply for .BANK domain during Sunrise Period
- June 2015 (NOT Registered with Trademark Clearinghouse): Apply for .BANK domain during General Enrollment
- Or take the steps to register your trademark prior to the Sunrise Period to be eligible for early domain registration
Registration for .BANK domain names is currently scheduled to open to all banks on a yet to be determined day in June of 2015. During a "Sunrise Period" starting in May 2015, however, banks that have recorded their trademarks with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN") Trademark Clearinghouse will receive a 30-day advance opportunity to register .BANK domain names corresponding to their marks before names are generally available to other eligible members. For example, if your bank’s registered trademark is "Good Bank" and it is registered in the Trademark Clearinghouse, you can register early during this Sunrise Period for "GoodBank.BANK."
ICANN & fTLD
In 2008, ICANN approved a program to open up the Internet to thousands of new generic top-level domains ("gTLD’s") in addition to the existing .COM, .ORG and other extensions. In response, a group of bank and financial services trade associations partnered to establish fTLD Registry Services, LLC ("fTLD") to apply for and operate the .BANK and .INSURANCE domains on behalf of the global banking and insurance communities. At this time, it is hard to predict how valuable .BANK or any of the new gTLD's will be, however, fTLD intends to make .BANK a protected, trusted, more secure and easily identifiable space on the Internet for the global banking community and the customers it serves. It will do this in part by performing charter verifications with regulators for any banks that apply, as well as other security screenings of applicants.
Prepare several acceptable variations of your bank name in case your preferred choice for the .BANK domain is unavailable.
Securing Your Preferred Domain
The process to register a trademark with the Trademark Clearinghouse takes time. Your bank should therefore consider such registration if it wants to maximize its chances of securing its preferred .BANK domain during the Sunrise Period. The Trademark Clearinghouse is currently accepting for registration only:
- Federally-registered trademarks;
- Court validated marks; and
- Marks protected by treaty or statute.
Even if your bank’s trademark does not fall into one of these categories, please keep in mind that registration with the Trademark Clearinghouse is not required to ultimately obtain a .BANK domain.
As with existing domain names, conflicts may arise for .BANK domains corresponding to common names in the banking industry for which competing trademark rights exist.
We can help you prepare for these changes and stay informed of recent developments. Please contact your Barack Ferrazzano attorney for more information.