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dotAfrica: The African Internet landscape is about to get a dramatic makeover!

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Published on Feb 25, 2014

The ZA Central Registry, in association with regional governments, NGOs and the private sector, will soon be releasing four uniquely African geographic Top Level Domains, or geo TLDs, including:

* The much anticipated, continent wide, .Africa; and
* The 3 Major South African City TLDs, namely .Joburg, .CapeTown and .Durban.

Through a "Special Launch Program", these geo TLDs will be made available to the Public in early 2014. The launch program will also provide an opportunity for brand owners and businesses, including trademark owners, to protect their valuable naming rights.

Brands that are protected as registered trademarks, like Nike, Shoprite and Cisco, will thus get priority in applying for their matching domain names under these new geo TLDs. This phase is called the Sunrise period and will last for 90 days from the day of the launch.

Running concurrently with the Sunrise period, will be a "Land Rush" period during which prospective registrants can apply for highly sought after premium generic domain names, such as travel.africa, bank.africa or safari.africa. The Land Rush period will run for 120 days from the day of the launch.

The geo TLD launch program will therefore extend over a period of 4 months, during which the public, through their selected Registrars, can apply for their chosen domain names.

If you intend to participate in the launch of these exciting new African TLDs, and your application is based on an existing priority right, such as a trademark, business or company name, you will first need to have these rights validated.

There are two ways in which you can do this: through the global Trademark Clearinghouse which is a centralized database of validated trademarks applicable across all the new gTLDs, or by using the localised Mark Validation System or MVS.

For validating your rights through MVS, you first need to create an account on www.MarkValidation.co.za and then upload your mark with the necessary supporting information. After your mark has been validated, a Validation Token, or VT will be issued to you, which you can redeem via your registrar to apply for a matching domain name during the Sunrise period.

At the conclusion of the launch phase, all domain name applications will be assessed and allocated according to a pre-determined priority ranking system, starting from the highest ranking to the lowest.

Domain name applications that are based on pre-validated rights, and are therefore accompanied by a matching Validation Token will receive a higher priority ranking than applications without a Validation Token.

An application based on a registered trademark right will receive a higher priority ranking than non-registered trademark rights.

Even for applications based on registered trademarks, those with trademarks registered in Africa will receive an even higher priority ranking than those registered outside of Africa.

Applications with the same priority ranking, also known as contention sets, will be referred to an external auction process to determine which application should ultimately succeed. At the end of the process, all successful and unsuccessful applicants will be duly notified.

For any further clarification regarding this special launch program, please visit www.AfricaInOneSpace.Org and www.registry.net.za/launch

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