South Africa’s web.za second level domain (SLD) is being relaunched and will soon be available to the public following “sunrise” and “landrush” phases, the ZA Domain Name Authority (ZADNA) said in a press statement on Thursday, 24 April 2014.
During the sunrise and landrush phases, the rights of intellectual property holders will be prioritised and premium names delegated, ZADNA said.
Following a public consultation process about the web.za charter, which ended last year, ZADNA decided to reopen web.za to accept new registrations.
The web.za domain has not accepted any new domain name applications for the last decade, but only maintained already existing domain names, ZADNA said.
The relaunch will closely mirror the timing and nature of the launch of the dotAfrica and dotCities (.joburg, .capetown and .durban) Top Level Domains (TLDs) that the ZA Central Registry (ZACR) will launch in the next few months, ZADNA said.
“The relaunch of web.za has been in the pipeline for a while, and that is why ZADNA ran a public consultation over web.za’s charter to determine how the local community saw web.za fit in relation to the other second level domains,” said ZADNA CEO Vika Mpisane.
“The feedback from the public consultation showed that there was strong support behind relaunching web.za as an unrestricted domain along the same lines as co.za,” Mpisane said. “Accordingly, parties interested in web.za need not satisfy any eligibility requirements.”
According to ZADNA, the relaunch of web.za means that South Africans now have an unrestricted alternative to co.za.
ZADNA said that last year’s public consultation also showed that protection of trademarks should be prioritised in relaunching web.za.
“ZADNA has given time to the web.za operator – the ZACR – to put in place necessary mechanisms that will guard against trademark abuse when web.za re-opens,” ZADNA said.
The ZACR is already in the process of launching the dotJoburg, dotDurban, dotCapeTown and dotAfrica domains.
As part of this launch, ZADNA said it has developed a trade mark protection system called the Mark Validation System (MVS).
The system allows local trade mark owners to submit their marks to the ZACR beforehand so that if other parties apply for names identical to their trade marks, the domain name applicant will be warned of the trade mark rights (Claims Service), ZADNA said.
Should the applicant still elect to continue with the registration, the trade mark owner will be informed of such registration (Watch Service).
The ZACR has extended the MVS to the web.za launch and will also, in the not to distant future, extend these services to the co.za domain.
“The MVS is an important proactive measure that complements our .ZA Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process,” Mpisane said. “The ADR allows aggrieved parties, after-the-fact, an opportunity to challenge any potential abusive of their trade marks and, if they are successful, to have the domain name transferred to them if the adjudicator decides in their favour.”
“The MVS, on the other side, allows trade mark owners to be more proactive and protect their marks beforehand.”
The implementation of the MVS means that web.za is being relaunched in a phased approach where the first phase – called the sunrise – allows MVS registered mark owners to register their marks as corresponding domain names in web.za before the public is allowed to apply for web.za names.
The first sunrise phase is set to begin on 1 May 2014 and should run until July. This will be followed by a landrush phase that will allow registration of names considered to be premium.
After another sunrise and land rush phase, web.za will become generally available on a first-come-first-served basis. This is anticipated to take place around August to September 2014.
ZADNA said that this phased approach also allows it an opportunity to ensure that the ZACR is ready to launch the dotCities and dotAfrica in a similar phased manner as required by ICANN.
Web.za names will be registered through ZACR-accredited registrars.
ZADNA said that it is in the process of finalising registration and annual fees that will apply to web.za registrations once web.za becomes generally available.