Wel­come to the .CO era — The .CO domain name extension

In Brief

Busi­ness­es through­out the world are able to pro­tect and expand their brand by reg­is­ter­ing a new domain name, in the .CO domain. This is dif­fer­ent to the exist­ing .com and .com​.au domains.

Colom­bia opens up .co domain

.CO is cur­rent­ly the coun­try code domain for Colom­bia. How­ev­er, recent sur­veys show most peo­ple asso­ciate .co with com­pa­ny”, cor­po­ra­tion,” or com­merce”. As a result over 20 coun­tries are using .co as a sec­ond lev­el domain name (i.e. co​.uk, co​.jp). Colom­bia has decid­ed to open up the domain as a alter­na­tive to the .com domain.

Mel­bourne IT is cur­rent­ly the only Aus­tralian accred­it­ed domain name reg­is­trar for .CO domain names. Up until to 13 July 2010 appli­ca­tion and reg­is­tra­tion fees are approx­i­mate­ly $360. Auc­tion for pop­u­lar names will be held, which may push up the price. Fol­low­ing this auc­tion peri­od, fees for reg­is­ter­ing a .CO domain name will be approx­i­mate­ly $80.

Domain name disputes

Domain name dis­putes that arise in con­nec­tion with the .CO domain will be gov­erned by ICANN’s Uni­form Domain Name Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion Pol­i­cy (UDRP). The World Intel­lec­tu­al Prop­er­ty Organ­i­sa­tion (WIPO) will over­see any arbi­tra­tion and medi­a­tion under the UDRP. In order to suc­ceed in a dis­pute you must meet three cri­te­ria. You must show that:

  • the infringer’s domain name is iden­ti­cal or con­fus­ing­ly sim­i­lar to your trade mark
  • the infringer has no rights or legit­i­mate inter­ests in respect of their domain name
  • the infringer’s domain name has been reg­is­tered and used in bad faith
Should you reg­is­ter your brand in the .co domain?

All busi­ness­es need to con­sid­er care­ful­ly whether to secure their brand in this new domain.

Cur­rent­ly, it is impos­si­ble to know how pop­u­lar the new domain will be, or the extent to which users or oth­er busi­ness­es will use the domain. Of course, the risk is that, if it is ignored, anoth­er busi­ness may secure your brand in this new domain and it may be dif­fi­cult, if not impos­si­ble, to get it back.

Ear­ly domain name reg­is­tra­tion will help ensure that oth­er trade mark hold­ers with rights to the same mark (e.g. in a dif­fer­ent coun­try) can not secure these rights before you do. It may fur­ther build valu­able new busi­ness and recog­ni­tion as a domain exten­sion that is rel­e­vant to your busi­ness in every cor­ner of the world.

For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, please con­tact Swaab Attorneys.

Authored by M Hall.