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Trademark Owners Should Consider .mp Domain Name Registration

Saipan DataCom, Inc.’s upcoming late March 2009 open launch of chi.mp (“Content Hub & Identity Management Platform) has implications for trademark holders that seem to have gone unnoticed to date. Chi.mp is a free platform that enables social network users to create social hubs on their own stand-alone hosted Web sites. Each chi.mp site includes a free .mp second-level domain. Registration is open worldwide and registrants need only provide a valid email address to complete the process.

Social networks are evolving away from “walled gardens” where users’ profiles and content are held within a particular site such as Facebook (see: recent article). Next generation social networks will likely be more open with interoperable systems creating connections between profiles that have their own domains. Users having their own domains are the foundation for this and chi.mp appears to be an important step in this evolution. In fact, chi.mp is an OpenID* provider and relying party and chi.mp site owners can use their .mp domains for authentication on other chi.mp sites and OpenID enabled sites across the Web. Chi.mp’s invitation-only private beta has garnered a great deal of positive feedback (see: recent article) and has generated approximately 10,000 registrations since late 2008.

Chi.mp has removed standard pay-for-service barrier in an effort to introduce the 300-400 million social network users to the domain name market and the opportunity to participate in this new type of social network. In order to facilitate this, the TLD of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI)—.mp—has been repurposed. Patishall client, Saipan DataCom, Inc., has a long-term contract with the CNMI that makes this possible.

As an attorney representing both trademark owners and domain name registries, I see chi.mp as a unique situation. As a general rule, trademark holders respond to country-code TLD infringement issues reactively instead of proactively by waiting until conflicts arise. My experience as an intellectual property attorney tells me that .mp should be an exception to this rule. In fact, I am providing my clients with an alert regarding registration in the .mp TLD.

Chi.mp sites and free .mp domains are for personal use by individuals only. Standard pay-for-service .mp domain registration is currently available to commercial entities for $20 per year (http://get.mp). The social networking aspects of free .mp domains is likely to generate a huge user base which may create valuable marketing opportunities for brand owners in the future. It is my understanding that commercial applications of chi.mp are planned though Saipan DataCom has not made any official announcements in this regard. Although the .mp domain is designed to respect the interests of trademark owners, I would still encourage brand owners to consider early registration in the .mp domain rather than waiting to respond to potential conflicts through the UDRP process.

In summary, chi.mp appears to be one of the leaders in the evolution of the social Web and trademark holders should take notice. The .mp Sunrise Period ended during 2008. Chi.mp will remain in private beta until late March. Open registration of free .mp domains with the upcoming launch of the chi.mp platform should be viewed as significant incentive for trademark owners to secure their brands in the space. The .mp TLD appears destined to attract larger numbers of users than the typical ccTLD.

* OpenID is a URL-based authentication system that allows site owners to create networks between domains. Post WIPO UDPR transfersof .mp domain require a $1,000 transfer fee since such transfers involve domains that may have been used for OpenID authentication by the original registrants.

By Mark Partridge, Managing Partner at Partridge IP Law

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.mp social media problem solver Heidi Siefkas-Cassemiro  –  Feb 24, 2009 2:56 PM

.mp was relatively new to me until this weekend when I read this post.  Being active in social media (linked in, my space, facebook, and more) it would be nice to have a place for all of these “somewhat” different profiles.
I tried to get a passcode to register a .mp code and am still awaiting a response from the Chi .mp
Keep me posted,

Nothing Succeeds Like Excess John Berryhill  –  Feb 27, 2009 6:07 AM

I am providing my clients with an alert regarding registration in the .mp TLD.

Why not just pre-emptively threaten the registry and all of the registrars with a class action this time around…


A law firm representing Sun sent letters last week to companies that register Internet addresses demanding that they refuse applications for addresses ending in the new .biz extension corresponding to over three dozen names—like http://www.sun.biz.

But among the names on the list are generic terms like ‘‘enterprise’’ and ‘‘ultra’’—and for that matter, ‘‘sun’’—that could be claimed by other businesses.

Advising them to consider registering a domain name?  That’s just way too soft.  Get out there and rattle that saber!

Oh, never mind, I missed this the first time John Berryhill  –  Feb 27, 2009 6:16 AM

Patishall client, Saipan DataCom, Inc., has a long-term contract with the CNMI that makes this possible.


I am providing my clients with an alert regarding registration in the .mp TLD.

Okay, well, now I see why you aren’t threatening to sue one of your clients on behalf of your other clients, but I hope your “alert” indicated that if any clients were interested in legal action relative to the registry participants in order to protect their rights, then they might consider finding objective counsel.

What's confusing me is that the dotMP Michele Neylon  –  Mar 1, 2009 4:32 AM

What’s confusing me is that the dotMP site does NOT allow you to register a .mp domain for $20, or if it does the process is very well hidden.
So how can a trademark holder protect their brand?

Don't hold your breath, Michele John Berryhill  –  Mar 9, 2009 6:51 AM

What’s confusing me is that the dotMP site does NOT allow you to register a .mp domain for $20, or if it does the process is very well hidden


You have to create an account.  No worries, though, because the system creates accounts on the fly and logs you in even if you don’t provide a valid email address.

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