• Secure Your Rights in the New, More Secure ".BANK" Domain Registry
  • March 24, 2015 | Authors: Micah J. Fincher; A. Justin Ourso
  • Law Firms: Jones Walker LLP - New Orleans Office ; Jones Walker LLP - Baton Rouge Office
  • Soon banks and savings associations may apply for a ".bank" domain name. Top-level domains are the suffix that comes at the end of an internet address, such as ".com" or ".edu".

    The application deadline depends on whether the bank or savings association is able to base its ".bank" domain application on a federally registered mark. (State and local trademark registrations do not qualify.) If it owns a federally registered mark, and has previously registered with ICANN's Trademark Clearinghouse ("TMCH"), it may submit an application during a "Sunrise" period beginning May 18, 2015. TMCH registration is required and organizations should begin the registration process at least five weeks before this deadline, preferably by April 10, 2015. General availability for banks that are not eligible for the Sunrise period, i.e., banks that do not have a federal trademark registration, begins June 24, 2015. If based on a federal registration, the applied-for domain must be identical to the registered mark. For example, if the registered mark is XYZ Bank, the application must be for "xyzbank.bank".

    State banks, national banks, and savings associations may apply for a ".bank" domain name, but credit unions are not eligible. The Credit Union National Association ("CUNA") is in the process of establishing a registry for a ".creditunion" domain, which will have different deadlines. Among other things, banking applicants must provide: (i) proof of eligibility (e.g., business license, certificate of formation, articles of incorporation, corporate operating agreement, charter documents, attorney opinion letter, or a mission statement for a non-profit organization) and (ii) the identity of the government regulatory authority and the assigned regulatory ID number (if applicable).

    If a bank or savings association does not own a federal registration, insufficient time remains to obtain one before the Sunrise period ends. In any event, federal registration will enhance the value of the organization's brand names and help to protect them. From beginning to end, applying for and obtaining a federal trademark registration for one trademark typically costs between $2,500 and $5,000, usually closer to $3,000. The most important factor is to act in a timely manner. While this may be an unexpected immediate expense, for most banks the long term benefits are worth the investment.