Important News for Trademark Owners: .TEL Domain Sunrise Period Opens December 3, 2008

19 November 2008 Publication

Legal News Alert: Trademark, Copyright & Advertising

We no longer have to imagine one global online directory where every company and brand owner can provide all of its contact information in one place in a fully interactive, fast, easy to use format, thus making it quickly accessible to any Internet user worldwide. Welcome to .TEL, a radical new top-level domain approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Because .TEL is expected to revolutionize the way consumers connect with individuals and businesses around the world, all companies and brand owners should consider taking steps now to reserve their own .TEL domains before the Sunrise Period for this launch opens on December 3, 2008.

What Is .TEL and How Is It Different From Other Top-Level Domains?
.TEL is a new top-level domain (TLD) designed to provide a full-service, real-time live directory for individuals and companies alike.

.TEL has a very different purpose than all existing TLDs (.com, .net, .org, and so forth). Unlike those top-level domains, which map domain names to IP addresses (and which, in turn, lead to specific Web sites), .TEL maps domain names to contact information and keywords that a business or brand owner elected to store directly in the Domain Name System (DNS). An example of a .TEL listing is shown below:

Because .TEL does not search for an IP address or Web site, the DNS data results much more quickly — in just a fraction of a second, as opposed to the amount of time needed to load a typical Web page. The advanced DNS technology makes the data fully interactive, allowing the online consumer to connect easily with your company at a fraction of the cost and without the need to go through any Web site. .TEL data also is optimized for simple integration with address books and advanced navigation on all mobile devices.

Using a .TEL domain (for example YourCompany.TEL or YourTrademark.TEL) will allow consumers to access your company or brand instantly from any device connected to the Internet. YourCompany.TEL (or YourTrademark.TEL) can easily route consumers to specific departments or locations worldwide in just a few seconds. As shown above, a company can publish all of its phone numbers, e-mail addresses, geo-location data, and keywords describing its business all in one place. The company also will have the choice to encrypt its shared DNS data, making it accessible only to authorized users. Unlike most other directories, all information available through .TEL can be updated in real-time anytime, anywhere, making .TEL the first true global online real-time directory.

Why Will Keywords Be Included in the DNS Data for .TEL Lookups?
Inserting keywords in the DNS data should give brand owners more control over search results. While search engines typically “read” entire Web pages to try to determine keywords, .TEL uses data supplied by companies and brand owners to tell search engines exactly where the keywords are, thus (at least in theory) streamlining specific search results.

Because.TEL lookup data includes keywords, we can expect this will give rise to further legal issues for trademark owners. Courts are already struggling to determine whether the purchase of another’s mark as a keyword constitutes “use” of that mark in commerce under the Lanham Act and, if so, whether such use results in either trademark infringement or dilution. These questions have not been uniformly answered yet across the United States and in other countries.

When Will .TEL Domains Be Available for Purchase?
As with other TLDs,.TEL is scheduled to launch in successive periods. The most important date for trademark owners is December 3, 2008, which is the beginning of the initial Sunrise Period (reserved for owners of registered trademarks and their authorized licensees). During the Sunrise Period, applications will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis to register .TEL domains for a period of three years at an estimated cost of $500.

Immediately following the Sunrise Period there will be a Landrush period starting on February 3, 2009. During the Landrush period, any interested party may file applications, which also will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis to register .TEL domains for a three-year period. Finally, general availability for .TEL domains will be offered to the public at large starting March 24, 2009, at which time anyone may register a .TEL domain (if it is still available) for a period of one year.

Where Can I See an Example of a .TEL Domain Name?
Several working demonstrations of .TEL domains are already available. For more information about .TEL and a working demonstration, you may visit www.telnic.org. In addition, www.hotels.tel and www.celebrity.tel have already been set up to demonstrate how .TEL will enable consumers to quickly find hotels in a particular location and information relating to particular celebrities.

Should Our Company Register .TEL Domains?
Regardless of what other top-level domains one may already own, it is important for all companies and brand owners to consider registering those .TEL domains that are critical to its business and brand (e.g., YourCompany.TEL and YourTrademark.TEL) during the upcoming Sunrise Period. Because .TEL may offer online users the quickest way to connect with a particular company or brand, the potential benefits may be great, but only if that company or brand owner is already part of the .TEL global online directory.


Legal News Alert is part of our ongoing commitment to providing up-to-the-minute information about pressing concerns or industry issues affecting our clients and colleagues. If you have any questions about this alert or would like to discuss this topic further, please contact your Foley attorney or the following:

Miriam Claire Beezy
Los Angeles, California
310.975.7966
mbeezy@foley.com

Jeffrey A. Kobulnick
Los Angeles, California
310.975.7810
jkobulnick@foley.com