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Sunrise Period for .РФ Domain Name Reservation Extended, Eligibility to Expand

Trademark owners now have until April 23, 2010 to submit priority applications for .РФ domain names. The Coordination Center for the TLD RU — the Russian government authority responsible for administering domain names ending in .RU and .РФ  —  announced on March 24, 2010 that it was extending the Sunrise Period during which trademark owners may reserve Cyrillic domain names composed in whole or in part of their word marks (as opposed to logos).  It is anticipated that the Coordination Center will soon expand the range of parties eligible to participate in the Sunrise Period significantly. Owners of Latin-character trademarks will likely be among those to benefit, although official details of the changes have yet to be released. Requests to reserve a .РФ domain must be submitted to a domain name registrar by April 23, and all supporting documentation is due by  May 11, when the Sunrise Period ends.

Current Eligibility Rules

Not everyone is eligible to reserve a .РФ domain name during the Sunrise Period. Under present rules:

An applicant must own a registered trademark. Only the owner of a trademark registered with either the Russian Federal Service for Intellectual Property, Patents and Trademarks (Rospatent), or under the Madrid System for the international registration of marks, qualifies to reserve a .РФ domain name. In the case of the Madrid System, the Russian Federation must be included among the countries for which the mark was registered. In both cases, the mark must be fully registered — a trademark application will not suffice. 

The trademark must be composed entirely of Cyrillic characters. Trademarks containing Latin characters do not currently qualify for .РФ domain name reservation.

Domain names are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. If there are multiple parties qualified to reserve the same domain name, the first party to contract with a domain name registrar, and submit the necessary documentation, will be granted priority.

Anticipated Changes

In addition to extending the Sunrise Period, the Coordination Center will soon be amending its eligibility requirements to allow a wider range of parties to participate. Specifically:

Reservations based on Latin-character trademarks will likely be permitted. Although .РФ  domain names cannot contain Latin characters, it is expected that Coordination Center will soon allow owners of Latin-character trademarks to reserve the Cyrillic equivalents (transliterations) of their marks.

New grounds for making reservations are also likely to be introduced. It is expected that owners of print and electronic periodicals registered to disseminate mass information within the Russian Federation (“mass media registrations”) will qualify to participate in the Sunrise Period. The reservation of other kinds of names, such a business names, may also be permitted, although the Coordination Center has not yet disclosed the specifics of the upcoming amendments.

Choice of  Domain Names

A number of restrictions will still apply to the domain names that qualified parties may reserve. First and most importantly, .РФ domains must be composed entirely of Cyrillic characters, numerals, and/or hyphens. Second, the domain name must fully reproduce the word mark. Gaps between words can be closed or hyphenated. Third, the domain name must be at least 2 characters long and at most 63 characters long, excluding the characters “.РФ.” Finally, the domain name cannot begin or end with a hyphen.

How to Apply

To reserve a domain name, trademark owners must specify the domain name they would like to reserve, and submit along with their applications a copy of their trademark registration certificates and, in the case of Madrid System registration, proof that their marks have entered into force within the Russian Federation. Corporations and other legally registered entities must also submit copies of their state registrations.

After the Sunrise Period

Following the Sunrise Period, which ends May 11, 2010, .РФ domain names will be auctioned off in successive rounds, with bidding likely to start at approximately 10m RUB, decreasing over time. The exact bidding rates have yet to be determined. Eventually, domain names will be sold at market price (approximately 600 RUB). Open bidding is not expected until the autumn, although the .РФ domain should be up and running sometime between June and September.

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