Trademark owners failing to register dotAfrica (.africa) domain names matching their brand names could find themselves incurring significant legal costs.
The opportunity to do so is during the Sunrise phase, which started on 4 April and runs until 2 June.
There are huge complexities involved in trying to wrest intellectual property away from those who could snapped up domain names once the new .africa geographic Top Level Domain (gTLD) goes into General Availability (GA) from 4 July, according to Lucky Masilela, CEO of ZA Central Registry NPC (ZACR).
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 itis best prevented by the simple act of applying now for .africa domain names that match registered or validated intellectual property,” says Masilela.
He explains 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 a number of world-leading brands valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.