The first Sunrise Period for trademark owners under ICANN's new gTLD program has begun. The gTLD is the Arabic IDN 'شبكة, or "dot-Shabaka". The term roughly means "web" in Arabic and eligibility for registrations is unrestricted.
The Dot-Shabaka Registry has made it clear for months that they wanted to be the first TLD to launch this year. This launch represents an important milestone for ICANN's new gTLD program. Congratulations are in order for ICANN, ARI Registry (the back-end provider) and of course, the dot-Shabaka Registry.
Although this is a significant milestone, it has the feel of a soft launch. Instead of ICANN trumpeting the news and publishing the mandatory Start-up Plan (details below) that it presumably received from the TLD, it was left to the Trademark Clearinghouse to quietly publish just the Sunrise news on their website on Thursday, October 31 and then tweet about it to their followers.
There are very few Arabic trademarks (less than 100?) in the Trademark Clearinghouse. But there is still plenty of time to have trademarks submitted and accepted by the TMCH. This announcement will likely generate additional submissions to take advantage of the Sunrise Period.
The Registry is in the midst of on-boarding Registrars. The Registry may discover that Registrars are distracted implementing new obligations in the 2013 RAA that are required by January, 2014 and few are equipped to fully support arabic-speaking customers.
But these issues are mere hiccups.
But these issues are minor and will be resolved. It is fitting that the first TLD to launch this year is an IDN, since extending the reach of the Internet to new markets is a major goal of the expansion.
According to the registry, the term 'شبكة (.shabaka) is instantly recognised by all Arabic speakers as the generic term for the Internet given there is no direct translation.
Primary marketing messages
Here is how the registry is positioning the .'شبكة brand:
The Start-Up Plan for the TLD
The registry provided their mandatory Start-up Plan today and it includes the usual launch phases (times shown are UTC):
تهنئة (Congratulations) again to ‘شبكة, or "dot-Shabaka".
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