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Rolling Out The New .Pro Domain

Professionals can extend their online identities and direct traffic using .pro - the last of seven new top-level domain names approved by the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Individuals and entities in the accounting, legal and medical professions became eligible to apply to defensively register as of April 23, 2003. In July, .pro domain names will go live.

The .pro domain name will serve to easily identify Web site owners and Web content relating to professional services. This new domain name is limited to licensed professionals - unlike the original domain names .com, .net and .org, Therefore, this domain name extension is intended to establish a trustworthy identifier for licensed individuals and their organizations on the Web using the domain names .cpa.pro, .law.pro and .med.pro.

Another point of differentiation is that each .pro registrant will receive a digital certificate that can be used as a platform for secure e-mail, digital signatures and digital notarization.

Contrasting with the hype that accompanied the launch of .biz and .info, companies are not being urged to defensively register their trademarks and domain names in a new top level to avoid piracy by cybersquatters. Instead, the .pro domain names are being suggested to provide context and a ready reference for the types of services provided by the domain name owner to its clients and potential clients.

Professionals or professional service firms with a Web presence will want to consider registering a .pro domain name as an alternative means of identifying their presence on the World Wide Web. A .pro domain name can be used to point to an existing home page.

Eligibility to own a .pro domain name is limited to individuals currently licensed in the United States or the District of Columbia as certified public accountants, attorneys, or medical doctors or doctors of osteopathy and their affiliated organizations. In the future, the .pro top-level domain is likely to be extended to other professionals and professional service firms (such as architects, engineers and certified financial planners) and to other jurisdictions.

Eligible organizations that provide the specified professional services must have at least one employee who is eligible to register on behalf of the organization. Examples of eligible .pro organizations are accounting and law firms, physician groups, hospitals, legal publishers, bar associations, medical supply companies and the law departments of large companies. Registrants must remain in compliance with these eligibility requirements at all times throughout the registration, and eligibility will be reviewed at least annually.

Registrants for the .pro domain name must agree to follow the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (URDP) adopted and enforced by ICANN. These rules allow the transfer of domain names that are registered and used in bad faith by registrants who fail to prove their good faith use of a domain name when challenged in an online arbitration proceeding. In addition, registrants must agree to submit to the Qualification Challenge Policy that mandates a process and procedure for determining if any .pro registrant was ineligible to register or violated a registration restriction once the domain name was registered.

This domain name registry is the first to permit a defensive intellectual property name registration. Any owner of a national trademark registration issued anywhere in the world prior to September 30, 2002, can file to block domain names that exactly match the text or word elements of the trademark and through that same filing can reserve that domain name for future use. These defensive registrations can be used to block a domain name against all current and future strings (.cpa.pro, .law.pro, .med.pro and future strings such as .cfp.pro and .eng.pro and any others), any one string or for professionals outside the initial launch jurisdiction that is limited to the United States.

With more than 27 million .com, .net and .org domain registrations and every two to three letter combination taken in these top-level domains, it is beneficial to have an additional domain name extension available.

As the adage goes, “There is no place like home.” With the advent of the .pro domain name, for the professional services firm and for solo practitioners there is now happily more than one way to direct clients to your home page.

By Susan D. Rector, Attorney

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dnslife  –  Sep 9, 2003 12:11 PM

Why is there only 3 professions listed as optons for a .pro? Also, a 3rd level domain and security certificate for $295.00? I can only hope for an alternate root to overthrow icann.

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