If you would like to register a website for your brand at .africa, .capetown, .joburg, or .durban, now is your chance to ensure that you’re first in line. The ZA Central Registry (ZACR) will be launching 4 new gTLD (general top level domains), namely .africa, .capetown, .joburg and .durban.early in 2014. You can just imagine the possibilities for brand owners in Africa to expand their web presence by registering their brands as domain names in these new domains! Unfortunately, besides the new opportunities come new risks of brands falling victim to a new wave of online trade mark infringement and cybersquatting. That’s why ZACR has set up the Mark Validation System (MVS).

How does the Mark Validation System benefit brand owners?

The MVS will allow brand owners to submit any mark that they have rights to into a database. ZACR will then validate whether they do in fact have a legitimate claim to that mark.

Once the mark is validated it will go into the MVS database and will entitle the brand owner to the following benefits:

  1. Sunrise Period: Owners of validated marks will be notified at least 30 days before the .africa, .capetown, .joburg and .durban domainsare open to the public and will have the chance to pre-register their mark as a domain name in any of these domains, if they want to. This removes the dangers of the normal first come first serve rule that will apply once the domains go public!
  2. Trademark Watch Service: Whenever someone wants to register a domain name that matches a mark in the MVS database, that person will get a warning so that they know that the domain name they are trying to register conflicts with a validated mark. If they still proceed and register the domain name, the owner of the validated mark will be notified and then has the option to take the appropriate action, should they wish.

What types of marks qualify for the MVS database?

Some of the types of marks that can be submitted to the MVS include:
Registered trade marks: trade marks registered in any African country will get priority in the sunrise period, but trade marks registered anywhere in the world can be submitted. Company names: only companies, trusts or other legal entities validly registered in an African country. Unregistered trade marks: only common law trade marks used in an African country.

How Smit & Van Wyk can help you:
If you are interested in receiving these benefits, please contact us so that we can advise you if your mark or name qualifies. We can submit your mark with the MVS on your behalf. We will ensure that the correct information and documentation is submitted so that your mark is properly validated and recorded with the MVS. We will remind you of the sunrise period and can assist you to register the domain names corresponding with your mark.We will let you know if someone else has registered a domain name that matches your validated mark and advise you what steps you can take to enforce your rights.