New website endings and the jewelry industry
December 23, 2013
Sara E. Yood is assistant general counsel with the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, which provides general educational resources and jeweler-specific advice. The advice is strictly the opinion of the JVC.
When you type an Internet address into your web browser, the address must be unique so that computers know where to find the website you wish to visit. For years, those who wished to operate a website have been limited, when creating the web address, to a small list of designations following the “dot," such as “.com”, “.net” or “.biz." While this limitation meant that website addresses have remained standardized, it has limited the creation of new and unique website addresses, thus stifling some creativity.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) is a nonprofit, multi-stakeholder, worldwide organization that administers and governs how Internet addresses work. This organization ensures that any web address used accurately targets the desired website. ICANN has recently offered hundreds of new designations for the domain endings -- “the right side of the dot” or “top-level domains” (TLDs). Private companies have been bidding for administration authority over these new designations. Those which are generic, “gTLDs”, will provide hundreds of new and different website endings for Internet addresses in order to greatly expand the available number of website addresses.
Many of these new gTLDs are extremely appropriate for the jewelry industry. Endings such as “.diamonds”, “.jewelry” and “.gold” are widely desirable. Imagine you are a diamond retailer in New York City who wants to create a website. In the past, you might have been limited to a website address such as www.thebestnycdiamondsever.net. Now, with new gTLDs, you may be able to purchase a website address that is much more memorable, such as www.nyc.diamonds, in which “.diamonds” replaces “.com” or “.net”. This customization could be important to businesses looking to create memorable brands and a dynamic online presence.
There are a number of different entities that will be allowing access to these new gTLDs. One such company that has purchased the right to administer some of these gTLD designations is a new private organization called Donuts, www.donuts.co. Donuts is currently rolling out the gTLDs over which they have authority. One of these gTLDs is “.diamonds”. As required by ICANN, DONUTS has already set up ways to prevent a registered trademark from being used in new website addresses without permission. A website address such as www.EdwinPearl.diamonds could be very lucrative if not purchased by Edwin Pearl itself.
If you wish to protect your trademark in this context, the easiest way to do so is to use the Trademark Clearinghouse, which is a central registration database for trademarks, administered by ICANN and used by all the companies who administer gTLDs. If you wish to prevent someone else claiming your trademark to use as a website address you can register your trademark now with the Trademark Clearinghouse (http://trademark-clearinghouse.com/, with fees of $150 for one year.) With this registration, you will be notified if someone is trying to register your trademark in a new website address.
Once you have registered with Trademark Clearinghouse, you will also be eligible to participate in a three-month “sunrise” period during which you can, in advance, apply to Donuts for a web address with the new gTLD. Donuts is preparing to offer .diamonds for early registration to companies that have registered their trademarks with the Trademark Clearinghouse from now until Feb. 14, 2014. If you do not have a registered trademark, the gTLD will be offered to the public on Feb. 26, 2014.
Check with your current web site host to see if they are offering additional services related to these new gTLDs. JVC will continue to monitor the addition of new gTLDs that affect the jewelry industry. If you have any questions about the use of trademarks in domain names, please do not hesitate to contact JVC at 212-997-2002 or firstname.lastname@example.org.