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    Highlights of the ICANNWatch Archive
    (June 1999 - March 2001)

    Country-Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) Singapore Wants to Trademark .sg
    posted by michael on Thursday January 09 2003, @06:32AM

    The ever-useful BNA Internet Law News carries a link to an AsiaOne story reporting that the Singaporean government, through the Singapore Network Information Centre, has applied for a trademark registration of the .sg domain. Hmm. I'd think there would be be a lot of issues here -- prior use for one. Updated

    Singapore is of course free to set what domestic trademark rules it likes (well, subject to various treaties, but I don't think they are relevant here), but I wonder what luck they'd have enforcing this one internationally. The USA's 1999 Trademark Examination Guide 2-99 stated,
    If a mark is composed solely of a TLD for 'domain name registry services' (e.g., the services currently provided by Network Solutions, Inc. of registering .com domain names), registration should be refused under Trademark Act §§1, 2, 3 and 45, 15 U.S.C. §§1051, 1052, 1503 and 1127, on the ground that the TLD would not be perceived as a mark. The examining attorney should include evidence from the NEXIS® database, the Internet, or other sources to show that the proposed mark is currently used as a TLD or is under consideration as a new TLD.
    The UK has a similar rule banning UK trademarks of gTLDs. Although, arguably, neither rule applies to a government's registration of the domestic ccTLD, I'd say that the better rule would be to refuse the registration. It will be interesting to see what the excellent Trademark Blog has to say about this. [Update: 01/10 21:42 GMT by MF: the Trademark Blog weighs in with some pragmatic remarks.]

    As AsiaOne reports, a prime motivation here might be the Singapore government's desire to increase its control over the ccTLD...which might make it the poster child for the use of trademark law to control content, a bogeyman that, up till now, has manifested itself only in the context of the UDRP and a very small number of lawsuits.

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      Related Links  
  • BNA Internet Law News
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  • applied for a trademark registration of the .sg domain
  • More on Country-Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs)
  • Also by michael
    This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
    Singapore Wants to Trademark .sg | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 2 comments | Search Discussion
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    Why not?
    by Anonymous on Friday January 10 2003, @11:36AM (#10945)
    If "national sovereignty" provides a claim to exclusive control of a country code, why can't trademark? Furthermore, if trademarks are applicable to the second level domain why not to the top level domain? The Trademark office explanation that all such domains are generic is obviously false, having been based on the technically ignorant assumption that all TLDs are generic terms like ".com" or ".org"
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
      Re:Why not?
      by michael (froomkin@lawUNSPAM.tm) on Friday January 10 2003, @12:14PM (#10946)
      User #4 Info | http://www.discourse.net/
      Well, for starters, I don't agree with your premise about national sovereignty. Singapore is of course free to make whatever *internal* rules it wishes, subject to its international treaty obligations (some of which require respecting rights of expression), there is no way in which it can articulate a valid claim under existing public international law that its claim to use the string "sg" as an identifying mark is superior to that of foreigners.

      As for the attempt to do via trademark law what it cannot do via public international law, one would need to know what category of goods Singapore produces with the ".sg" brand name and how long they have continually been doing that. And, even if they get a domestic trademark for that use, it doesn't follow they get one elsewhere unless they can show use.

      Again, if Singapore wishes to enact a speech code and call it an "orange" or a "trademark" rule, it has the right to do that. What it cannot reasonably expect is for others outside their jurisdiction to respect it.

      As a person who values tidy rules, I'd rather that we call things what they are, and not make "trademark" law about things other than trademark. In the long run I think that is more likely to garner respect for and adherence to rules, and even better interpretation of them. A trademark right traditionally requires that the mark be in actual use as a source identifier of goods or services. I don't thing the Singapore government provides goods or services under the .sg mark, but of course I might be wrong about that. But if they don't, they really don't deserve a TM under traditional principles.

      [ Reply to This | Parent ]

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