New Internet Domain Name Options Available for Pharma Industry


This article appeared in Pharmaceutical Compliance Monitor, February 3, 2014, and is reproduced with permission.

Perhaps you've seen the TV ads or read the articles in the newspaper. Or maybe a company marketing executive has raised the issue in a recent strategy meeting, or you've received alerts from your outside legal counsel. Whatever the source, by now you are probably aware that the Internet as we currently know it is about to change dramatically.

Specifically, in addition to the familiar .com, .org, and .net "top-level" domains, over 1,000 new top-level domain names will be rolled out over the next 24 months or so. The process has already started, with early "Sunrise" registrations available for dozens of new top-level domains such as .bike, .plumbing, and .singles.

Some pharma companies filed applications for their own names, such as brand-centric .abbott, .merck, and .pfizer. Other top-level domains are disease-centric, such as .hiv, .cancerresearch, and .stroke. A list of all the top-level domain names applied for can be found at, though not all will necessarily be delegated.

Although there is no opportunity at present to file for a new top-level domain, the game is on for obtaining key second-level domain names as each new top-level domain is launched (such as "drugname.stroke"). Once the process gets rolling, ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which runs the domain name system) believes it can delegate as many as 20 new top-level domains per week.

To help brand owners protect their marks in the new top-level domain name space, a new Trademark Clearinghouse has been established, run jointly by Deloitte and IBM. A trademark owner may record in the Clearinghouse marks that are (1) registered at the national or multi national level (such as for European Community trademarks, but excluding state registrations), (2) court validated common law marks, and (3) protected by statute or treaty, which are likely rare in the pharma industry.

So, what are the benefits? Please read “New Internet Domain Name Options Available for Pharma Industry” to learn more about the benefits, costs, and what steps you should take.