Africans will now have their own .africa domain, this name is set to be introduced towards the end of 2013.
The top level domain name will make it possible for businesses and other organizations to register domain names ending in .africa for the first time. However, the domain registration process is yet to be revealed.
Donvay Wegierski, director of Werksmans Attorneys and member of its Intellectual Property practice in Stellenbosch, says that the .africa domain was created “by Africans for Africans” and marked Africa’s strides in growth and development.
He said that the domain will present an opportunity to identify the African continent online for the very first time. The director added that they are expecting many existing and new companies across the continent to take up the .africa domain to show to the world where they are from.
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the co-ordinator of the launch of the new domain names.
“We expect the .africa domain to launch in two phases, first the Sunrise phase and second the Landrush phase,” Wegierski argues.
During the Sunrise phase, trade mark owners have priority to register .africa domains incorporating their trade marks for a certain period of time.
“It is for this reason that trade mark owners should validate their trade marks at the TradeMark Clearinghouse (TMCH) as only trade mark owners with TMCH validation can take advantage of the Sunrise period because it is only possible for the TMCH to validate registered trademarks and therefore only proprietors of registered trademarks will have preference,“ continues Wegierski .
The second phase, which is the Landrush , will open then and there and domains can be registered on a first-come-first-serve basis.
The .africa registry will be managed by UniForum South Africa, trading as ZA Central Registry (ZACR).