Edited by Susy Frankel
Chapter 6: Re-conceptualising the country code top level domain name as a sui generis intellectual property right
This chapter discusses country code top level domain names (ccTLDs) and suggests they are an emerging area of sui generis intellectual property. A domain name is a valuable and internationally-unique resource for a business. Acknowledging this value, courts and dispute resolution bodies have ruled that second-level domain names possess ‘an intangible property right’ and that domain names incorporating a trademark should be transferred to the trade mark owner. However, the legal status and reputational value of a ccTLD is less established. Domestic laws and policies dominate the governance of each country’s ccTLD. Many countries allow ‘their ccTLD’ to be purchased on the open market, leading to uncertainty and confusion for online consumers and businesses. Categorising the ccTLD as sui generis intellectual property would provide the opportunity for international negotiations and agreements by inter-governmental bodies and would provide more certainty for the international market.
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