Organic Internet Growth: New .ORGANIC Domain Names Launch

by Dorsey & Whitney LLP
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If an organic standards body has approved you or your product, you are likely eligible to register an .organic domain name. Interested brand owners should apply as soon as possible and before the sunrise period closes on September 5, 2014. All others should apply when the general availability period opens on September 15, 2014.

As you may have heard, the internet is moving beyond familiar generic top-level domains (“gTLDs”) – like .com, .org, and .net – and adding hundreds of new gTLDs, like .eco, .NYC, .Canon, .YourBrand, or .Anything. A gTLD is the part of the domain name to the right of the “dot.” Internationalized gTLDs, using non-Latin alphabets, are also coming into existence so that, for example, a brand owner could register YourBrand.com entirely in Chinese characters. A full list of the applied-for gTLDs is here (some others in the food and beverage area include .bar, .beer, .catering, .coffee, .cooking, .farm, .kitchen, .menu, .pub, .recipes, .rest, and .restaurant).

One of these new gTLDs is .organic. Domain names registered in the .organic gTLD will be in the format of milk.organic, and we expect that these domain names will be of particular interest to cooperatives, food and beverage companies, and agricultural companies. A short video about .organic domain names is here.

During the sunrise period for this gTLD, a trademark owner with a Trademark Clearinghouse (“TMCH”) registration may register a domain name corresponding to the trademark, before the general public may do so, if it is eligible. A general availability period will follow in mid-September for entities interested in .organic domain names which do not have TMCH registrations.

The .organic gTLD is restricted. In this gTLD, only one of the following entities may register domain names:

  • Food, Drink, or Co-Packer Companies;
  • Farmers;
  • Retailers or Distributors;
  • Restaurants;
  • Personal Care Products;
  • Textile Products;
  • Certifiers;
  • Non-Profit, Not for Profit, or Trade Association Organizations; and
  • Friends of .organic.

In addition, although anyone in these “groups” may register a domain name, domain name registrants will be required within fifteen days of registration to provide verification of certain details. One important requirement is that the registrant be a product owner, manufacturer, producer, co-packer, distributor, wholesaler, or retailer which is approved by an Approved Organic Standards (“AOS”) body and issued a current and valid certificate from that AOS body. Further details concerning AOS bodies can be provided upon request.

Prior to verification, the domain name will be held in a “pending” status and will not function on the internet. Domain names that are not verified within the fifteen day period or which otherwise fail the verification process will be deleted.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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