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23rd December 2013

Release of new top level domains – IP risk and opportunity

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23rd December 2013

Release of new top level domains – IP risk and opportunity


From January 2014, the Supreme Court will cease use of the “supremecourt.gov.uk” portal for its domain names, instead adopting the “supremecourt.uk” address. As stated on its website, this will emphasise that the Court is separate from the government (many of the Court’s cases involve the government as a party) and avoid the risk of undermining its perceived independence in the eyes of the public.

Whereas the top-level domain “name.uk” is used by many high-end institutions, such as the police, parliament, nhs and now the Supreme Court, steps have been taken to make top level domains (compared to say “name.co.uk”) more widely available from Summer 2014.

In an article published by the BBC last month, the Chief Executive of Nominet, the company which manages the use of domain names ending “.uk”, told the BBC that the costs for businesses wanting to adopt the in new form of url would be relatively inexpensive. However, this is in terms of registration. Business owners will also need to consider the cost of changes to marketing materials, stationery and so on.

There is always much discussion about whether companies should seek to capture all relevant domain names incorporating their brand, not least to avoid third parties registering similar web addresses and hijacking internet traffic and their customers. The availability of new top level domains is no exception.

Remember that a registered trade mark is infringed by the use of a domain name incorporating the mark. Accordingly, focus should be given to whether budgets are better spent on strategic trade mark registrations rather than attempting to capture all relevant domains.

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