Trademark owners who don’t register dotAfrica (.africa) domain names matching their brand names during the sunrise phase, which commenced on 4 April and will run until 2 June, could find themselves incurring significant legal costs later on.
This is a warning issued by ZA Central Registry NPC (ZACR), which is responsible for the domian.
It says the complexities involved in trying to wrest intellectual property away from those who would have snapped up the available domain names after the sunrise phase are innumerable.
Proactive trademark owners have already started securing their .africa domain names before the new .africa geographic Top Level Domain (gTLD) is launched to the public during the General Availability (GA) phase from 04 July 2017.
During GA, domain names will be registered on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, trademark owners who do not secure their .africa domain names during the current 60-day Sunrise phase may not be able to guarantee the availability of their .africa domain names from GA onwards.
“The very real possibility of opportunists registering one’s trademarks exists and it is best prevented by the simple act of applying now for .africa domain names that match registered or validated intellectual property,” says Lucky Masilela, CEO of ZA Central Registry NPC (ZACR).
Masilela says that .africa is the new top-level domain for the African continent: “It is an African initiative created by Africans for the International Internet community. In order to ensure responsible growth, the .africa Registry will place special emphasis on securing the rights of intellectual property owners during the Sunrise Period.”
Africa is home to an array of world-leading brands valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars that require protection. The Africa Brand Index by Ornico lists the following amongst the top 25 social media brands on the continent: SuperSport, Woolworths, Vodacom, Safaricom, FirstBank, Jumia, Airtel, Pick n Pay, MTN and others. For its part, Brand Africa has at least six homegrown African brands included in its global listing of the Top 100 Most Valuable Brands.
The benefits of a dotAfrica domain name for brand owners include showcasing the brand and it’s commitment to the continent, establishing a home for Africa-specific products and services, and expanding the brand’s regional influence, acquiring valuable online real-estate in a fast-growing and high-potential market.
* For more information on the .africa sunrise phase please visit: http://nic.africa