“.Beer” Web Domain Goes Live Soon – Act Fast to Protect Your Trademark
The internet used to be simple – every web address seemed to end in .com, .edu, .org, or maybe .net. These abbreviated terms are known as “top-level domains” (TLDs). While we may have only used a handful of different TLDs in years past, the list is growing rapidly. You may see a TLD assigned to a country (such as “.tv” for Tuvalu, but more commonly used to refer to television) or to certain industries, including “.plumbing,” “.catering,” and even “.blackfriday.” One of the most recent additions is “.beer.” The “.beer” domain presents a new opportunity for individuals and businesses wishing to more closely identify their website with the beer industry, including brewers, distributors, and bars. However, it also creates an opportunity for cybersquatters or other entities to reserve a domain name that might infringe on your trademark. For example, if you have already reserved “www.mightytastybeer.com,” you will not automatically receive “www.mightytasty.beer” when it becomes available. If someone else reserves the “.beer” domain name prior to you, even though you may have a trademark for Mighty Tasty Beer, you are going to have a big headache on your hands. You can imagine what someone with bad intent can put on a website that people may mistake as yours.
Fortunately, there are measures a business can take to avoid these potential problems. Prior to any new TLD going public, there is a period known as the Trademark Sunrise Period. The Trademark Sunrise Period allows registered trademark holders the first opportunity to reserve a new domain name related to their trademark. In order to do so, however, the trademark holder must register with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ Trademark Clearinghouse. Once registered, the trademark holder will not only get first priority in registering a new domain name, but will also be alerted when anyone else registers their trademark. For “.beer,” the Trademark Sunrise Period has already begun and will end on September 10, 2014. That does not leave much time for a beer industry member to reserve their new domain before it is opened to the public on a first come, first served basis. Breweries, distributors, and others in the beer industry should act now. Should you require assistance or any additional information regarding this process, feel free to contact Evan Pappas or Ken McDermott at Shumaker Williams, P.C.