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New ‘.bank’ domain available in mid-2015

published in McAfee & Taft tIPsheet | March 1, 2015

By Jessica John Bowman

New opportunities for the banking community are coming this year. In the fall of 2014, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the entity responsible for coordinating internet domain names, granted fTLD Registry Services, LLC’s (fTLD) application to operate a new generic top-level domain name (gTLD). fTLD will begin operating and managing the domain name “.bank,” which will be made available to members of the banking community in the summer of 2015.

fTLD has indicated that it will thoroughly evaluate all entities applying to register a .bank domain name, awarding registrations only to verified members of the banking community. In addition, fTLD will require .bank domain name registrants to comply with a number of heightened controls and security measures. These security measures, which are not ordinarily required of entities seeking to register domain names under other gTLDs, are intended to both improve the safety and security of the .bank domain, and to instill consumer confidence in the entities associated with that domain by, for example, preventing scammers from directing customers to imposter websites designed to mimic the pages of legitimate banking institutions.

The benefits of registering a domain name that is perceived by the general public to be safe, secure and available only to legitimate financial institutions are manifold, and institutions who seek to benefit from this new opportunity should begin preparations now. Specifically, banking institutions who seek to register .bank domains should register their established trademarks with the ICANN Trademark Clearinghouse early this year so that they can take advantage of early domain name registration opportunities. Those verified members of the community that register their trademarks with ICANN will be granted the opportunity to seek advance registration for domain names identical to the corresponding registered trademarks during a 30-day “sunrise period,” which is currently set to begin on May 18, 2015. On or about June 24, after the expiration of the sunrise period, the remaining available .bank domains will be made available to the wider banking community.

Although the time to register is still a few months away, the time to prepare is now. Talk to your trademark attorney about how you can take full advantage of the benefits associated with the new .bank domain, and minimize the risks that a competitor will register a .bank domain that will confuse or mislead your customers.

Please be aware that this publication does not contain legal advice. The views expressed in the article are provided for informational and discussion purposes and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author or of McAfee & Taft A Professional Corporation.