London is set to become one of the first cities in the world to have its very own top level domain (TLD) - .london. The new .london domain registry will be operated by Dot London Domains Limited, a subsidiary of London & Partners, who are the official promotional body for London.
It is believed that the .london domain will be popular with businesses as it will enable them to gain a closer association with London, which is an iconic and globally recognised 'brand' in itself. So far several famous London businesses such as Selfridges, London Eye, Transport for London and Carnaby Street have already expressed interest in obtaining a .london domain.
Whilst the deal has now been officially signed with ICANN the launch date of the .london domain is not yet confirmed, but is expected to be around Spring/Summer 2014. The launch will be staggered over three phases, the first being a "London Limited Registration" period where only applicants who are London based individuals, businesses or organisations may apply. The second phase, the "Trademark Sunrise" period, will enable trade mark owners that have existing rights in a particular name to register them as .london domains. Finally there will be the "Landrush" phase for registration of 'desirable domains', after which the domain registry will open its doors to all other domain applicants on first come first served basis.
If the new .london domain does prove popular then it will be a welcome source of revenue for the city, as Boris Johnson has confirmed all profits from the domain sales are to be invested back into the city. However, on the reverse many businesses are no doubt concerned at the potential issues and additional expense when considering if their trade marks will be registered in bad faith by third parties. The only options available for trade mark owners are to apply for the domain themselves, or consider registering with ICANN's 'Trademark Claims Service'.
Full details regarding the Trademark Claims Service and associated Trademark Clearing House can be seen in our article published 02 May 2013: Trademark Clearing House Protection for Trade Mark Holders