Decentralized domains such as .BIT, .ETH, .COIN, and .LIB, which are based on blockchain technology, have experienced renewed relevance with the growing popularity of blockchain technology and data privacy policies. While these "domains" are not true domain names – meaning they do not use the ICANN-coordinated DNS and do not resolve to content in the traditional sense – they do allow for other activities among cryptocurrency holders such as connecting directly to their ‘wallets.’ While originally these domains were minimally used, lately they have increased in importance as they begin to impact the new gTLD namespace, and the “real DNS”, in a number of different ways.
For example, new Registry Operator “The Best SAS” recently acquired the .BEST Top Level Domain, and intends to use it as a “core component of a decentralized search optimized social network, where participants will be rewarded with .BEST cryptocurrency for reviewing best in class products and services.” This represents a new namespace to monitor for infringement, and the new Registry Operator intends to cut prices, which increases the risk of trademark infringement in a TLD.
.LUXE, a TLD that is currently in its Sunrise period, is related to the Ethereum blockchain, and was “created to combine Ethereum blockchain innovation and security with ease of use for today’s world” and its domains can be used in the traditional way (e.g. websites, email, etc.), or as a .ETH (Ethereum) cryptocurrency wallet or decentralized app address. Brand holders should note that there will be a .LUXE Limited Registration Period immediately after Sunrise, from October 9-25, during which only existing .ETH owners who have secured their .ETH domain by or before September 21, 2018 will be eligible for a .LUXE domain name.
An .ETH "domain" is simply a way to translate cryptographic addresses on the Ethereum blockchain into a human-readable "domain" instead of a long string of random numbers and letters, similar to how the DNS translates traditional domain names into an IP address. However, to access .ETH domains, users must use a specialized browser, or install a browser extension on their usual browser. The .ETH “TLD” is not sanctioned by or governed by ICANN, and like cryptocurrencies themselves, was originally established to provide a way to register a domain name that is immune to government regulation, hacking, website-seizing, and censorship.
While MarkMonitor is not currently offering decentralized domains, potential registrants in the .LUXE namespace should be aware that .ETH owners may be competing for registrations during the .LUXE launch. As such, MarkMonitor advises submitting registrations during the Sunrise Period (now through October 8) utilizing SMD files from the Trademark Clearinghouse. Also, if you are the holder of a .ETH domain, please let us know.
For assistance on reviewing your TMCH and domain portfolios and developing a strategy for these TLDs, please contact your Domain Client Service Manager as soon as possible.
Additionally, MarkMonitor continues to monitor .ETH and the decentralized domain space, and will continue to publish updates for our customers. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any specific questions in the meantime.