Introduction to .BANK
In the past couple of years, ICANN, the international organization responsible for the management and oversight of the Internet, has approved the release of hundreds of new Top Level Domains (TLDs) – including .BANK. This vast expansion of the Internet beyond the traditional TLDs, such as .Com, .Net, and .Org, has profoundly affected trademark owners. For one, they must now police their trademarks across all of the new TLDs, which—absent sound legal strategy—can compound their costs of effective intellectual property rights enforcement. These new TLDs can also be leveraged by companies to protect their brands and good names. .BANK presents one such opportunity.
Benefits of .BANK
.BANK will be a secure and easily identifiable Internet space for banks, financial services organizations, and their customers. Unlike most new TLDs, .BANK will be restricted to legitimate members of the global banking community. All applicants attempting to register domain names in .BANK must verify their eligibility as financial institutions. Because of this, .BANK will be less prone to cybersquatting and misuse by unauthorized parties. Even verified applicants can only purchase domain names that correspond to their trademarks or trade names. Because .BANK is going to be an exclusive space for the banking community, brand owners in the financial industry can leverage this TLD for new marketing and branding opportunities.
To Register in .BANK, First Use the Trademark Clearinghouse
.BANK will be publicly available as early as June 2015. But even before the launch, .BANK will provide a priority (Sunrise) registration period for trademark owners. The best way for a trademark holder to take advantage of the Sunrise period, and a host of other rights protection mechanisms, is to record its federally registered trademarks in the Trademark Clearinghouse, a special tool developed specifically to protect trademark rights. Recording marks in the Trademark Clearinghouse may be handled by accredited agents, such as our firm.
For a nominal fee (approximately $150 per mark), recording a registered trademark or trade name in the Trademark Clearinghouse provides several benefits: It enables the brand owner to register any domain names matching its recorded marks—in any new TLDs, including .BANK—before the general public. The Trademark Clearinghouse also 1) warns applicants if their applied-for domain names conflict with a recorded mark, and 2) provides notices to the brand owner if such matching domain names are ultimately registered. All in all, the Trademark Clearinghouse is an invaluable online rights protection tool we highly recommend.
The priority registration period for .BANK begins on May 18, 2015. To take advantage of priority registration, to learn about the Trademark Clearinghouse, and a host of other rights protection mechanisms to protect your brand in .BANK , contact Jim Bikoff, Partner and Head of the Internet Law Practice Group at Smith, Gambrell & Russell.