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The Launch of .pro Domain for Professionals

From 5 April to 14 May 2004 trade mark owners can apply in the .pro domain for defensive registrations corresponding to their marks. The .pro domain is only available to doctors, lawyers and CPAs during this period, known as a "sunrise period”.

Defensive .pro registrations may be obtained for a period of up to 4 years in order to protect any adaptations of them as current and future second-level domains for any specific .law.pro, .med.pro or .cpa.pro domain name.

In view of their nature, defensive .pro registrations cannot be directed to any actual websites and/or used as extensions to email addresses. However, after the .pro domain commences in June 2004, registrants can convert defensive .pro registrations to live domain names if they meet the registry's eligibility requirements. Equally, everyone who satisfies the registry's eligibility requirements will be able to obtain .pro domain names.

According to RegistryPro, a Chicago based American company which is the authority managing the .pro domain, .pro is designed to give professionals both a distinctive and secure Internet presence for their web site, notably by the establishment of a certificate for authenticating communications and transactions and of a checking process a posteriori on the registry's eligibility requirements for .pro domain name registrants. The .pro domain would appear to be an additional means for professionals to distinguish themselves on the Internet, and thus would respond to a need for confidentiality and security by certain categories of professionals.

During the period when the creation of ten new generic domains is being discussed, it seems timely to wonder whether the multiplicity of generic extensions is not killing the specificity inherent of each of them. In addition, having a "sunrise period" for this new domain might be perceived by trade mark owners as an invitation to spend money rather than as a measure aimed at protecting their intellectual property rights.

Prior to applying for defensive pro. registrations, it appears reasonable to ascertain the real interest that underlies the use of a mark in a name in this new domain. In absence of any interest, trade mark watches among .pro domain name registrations seems to be a good compromise for trade mark owners to ensure that their trade marks are not misappropriated.

By Philippe Rodhain, Intellectual Property Lawyer

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Re: The Launch of .pro Domain for Professionals By Thomas O'Toole  –  Apr 15, 2004 12:43 pm PST

I put this out there as a question to readers who may be better informed than I am: What is the value of a .pro domain? It seems very overpriced to me, inasmuch as it is possible to obtain everything .pro offers in the way of security as a fraction of the price elsewhere on a .com domain. As for having a domain that somehow vouches for the fact that the registrant is a professional (lawyer, doctor, etc.), it seems to me that this function is best left to each profession's regulatory body (state bar associations, etc), rather than allowing such an important function to be handled by a for-profit entity. I would think that lawyers would be upset at the idea of having .pro put to them by a commercial entity. But I could be wrong, and I would certainly like to read opposing views on this.

Re: The Launch of .pro Domain for Professionals By Joshua  –  May 04, 2004 7:44 am PST

The value is quite different than just a $6.00 generic domain name.  From their website, it states the .pro name is only given after a two-step verification process of the individual.  In addition, the registrant gets a security certificate which would otherwise cost anywhere from $50 to $500 on the web.

To Mr. O'Toole's point on leaving the function to each profession's regulatory body, I would tend to agree, if they were uniform and consistant.  Instead, RegistryPro is providing a data-aggregation service by tying all these national, state, and local chapters together with one interface.

I suspect RegistryPro is going to serve as a template for future TLDs by linking the registrant to a particular demographic.  We've also seen this trend (in a small way) with kids.us which restricts registrations to those providing appropraite content for kids.

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