The landrush is on in Gabon cyberspace
Although Internet penetration in Africa is currently pegged at only around 16 percent, the growth rate over the past decade has been some 3000 percent. This means that trade mark owners, especially those doing business in Africa, ignore developments in the continent’s cyberspace environment at their peril.
This is why it is noteworthy that Gabon recently relaunched its .ga country code Top Level Domain Name (ccTLD). As from 14 June 2013, the namespace was opened to the international community without restriction and as is customary, the launch process has sunrise, landrush and general availability phases.
The sunrise phase applies to trade mark owners or assignees whose trade marks were registered before 1 April 2013 and runs from 14 June until 15 July 2013. All other interested parties may apply during the landrush phase running from 15 June until 31 August 2013. General availability will commence on the 1 September 2013.
Domain names are not allocated on a first-come first-served basis, and in the event of a specific domain being applied for by multiple applicants during the relevant phase, the eventual right to register will be decided by an auction process.
Certain general technical and syntax requirements will apply during all three phases, meaning that domain names: • can have a length of between 3 and 63 characters
- can consist of the letters A-Z and 0-9, and hyphens
- cannot begin or end with a hyphen
- can only have two consecutive hyphens (- -) in the 3rd and 4th positions when preceded by “xn”.
Trade marks may be shortened or altered to comply with these technical requirements, but a trade mark word may not be split. For example, “MyTrademark” may be reduced to “MyTrade.ga” but not be split into “My.ga” and “Trademark.ga”.
Domain names consisting of a single character will attract a far higher annual tariff, with short letter domains (consisting of one, two or three characters) as well as certain common dictionary domains also commanding a premium over the standard rate.
For further information regarding the requirements for registration, the manner in which trade marks may be shortened, the registration process and the fees payable, please contact Jillian Barkley, Domain name administrator, at the Trade Marks department of Spoor & Fisher.