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Trade mark owners urged to act ahead of deadline for registering '.africa' web addresses

Brand owners operating in Africa have been urged to act quickly if they want to take advantage of a chance to enhance their trade mark protections on the continent.17 Jul 2017

A three-month window during which trade mark holders can register web addresses rooted at the new '.africa' domain in the name of their brands, is due to close at the end of the month.

The 'sunrise' period ends on 31 July during which time trade mark holders can register domain names with .africa  which correspond to their registered trade marks. It applies to trade mark holders who have already registered their trade marks with the trade mark clearinghouse run by ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

In recent years, ICANN has overseen the launch of a range of new generic 'top level' domains (gTLDs), such as .africa, to add to the more conventional list which includes '.com' and '.net', among others.

Shortly after the sunrise period ends, a new access phase will open. During this next stage, which will open in August, the .africa domain will be open to others to register web addresses rooted at the .africa domain.

Specialist in trade mark law Iain Connor of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, said: "New sector and/or continent specific top level domains continue to be released with .africa forming part of the latest round. If companies missed their preferred country domain name, .africa might provide a solution for companies with their roots in the continent."