October 9, 2007, 12:00 AM

Registration begins for .asia web domain

While it’s not clear that the .asia domain will ever be widely used, a trademark lawyer says internationally known brands should consider registering their trademarks as a defensive measure.

Registration begins today for a new domain, .asia, a “top level domain” similar to .com and .eu that is intended for use in 73 countries in Asia and the Middle East.

The .eu domain, introduced last year, is not being widely used and .asia may do no better, says Marc Trachtenberg, a trademark attorney with Ladas & Parry LLP, and director of the law firm’s domain registration unit, Ladas Domains LLC. Nonetheless, he advises internationally known brands to stake their claims so that others cannot use their names.

If a well known brand like Nike does not register Nike.asia, someone else could do it and get the traffic that results when web users type in that domain name. “Studies show a majority of Internet users search through direct navigation, that is, they type in a trademark or a generic name, or a combination, such as nike.fr, or nikeshoes.fr,” Trachtenberg says. “If you don’t have that domain name registered, someone else will profit from your brand name.”

Ladas Domains acts as a registrar for the .asia domain and will complete and submit Sunrise applications and documentary evidence and register a .asia domain name during the Sunrise period for $275, or $375 if Ladas serves as the required local presence within Asia for the domain owner. Ongoing renewals will be in the neighborhood of $50-$100. “Larger companies definitely should do it because the cost is minimal,” Trachtenberg says. “For smaller online retailers it probably wouldn’t be necessary.”

The .eu domain name has the fifth most registrants of all top-level domain names, but most of the registrations came from domain name speculators that have posted pay-per-click and advertising links with little real content, Trachtenberg says. He sees little reason to think .asia will be any more successful, as he believes there is less of a coherent Asian than European identity. He also points out the .asia domain takes in a wide variety of countries that many would not consider Asian, including Israel, Turkey, Iran, Australia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and New Zealand.

The initial registration, or “sunrise”, period that begins today extends through Oct. 30 and is for companies that applied for a trademark anywhere in the world before March 16, 2004. A second phase beginning Oct. 30 will cover trademarks applied for by Dec. 6, 2006. The “land rush” period, in which anyone can apply for an available domain name, begins in February, and the .asia domain is scheduled to go live in March.


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