South Africa’s web.za second-level domain is being relaunched and will soon be available to the public following “sunrise” and “land-rush” phases where the rights of intellectual property holders will be prioritised and premium names delegated.
This is according to the ZA Domain Name Authority (Zadna), which has now provided details regarding the relaunch of web.za.
For the last decade, web.za did not accept any new domain-name applications, but only maintained already existing domain names, Zadna said in a statement.
Following a public consultation process about the web.za charter, which ended last year, ZADNA recently decided to open up web.za again to accept new registrations.
The relaunch will closely mirror the timing and nature of the launch of the dotAfrica and dotCities (.joburg, .capetown and .durban) top-level domains that the ZA Central Registry will launch in the next few months.
“The relaunch of web.za has been in the pipeline for a while, and that is why Zadna ran a public consultation over web.za’s charter to determine how the local community saw web.za fit in relation to the other second-level domains,” said Zadna CEO Vika Mpisane.
“The feedback from the public consultation showed that there was strong support behind relaunching web.za as an unrestricted domain along the same lines as co.za. Accordingly, parties interested in web.za need not satisfy any eligibility requirements.”
The relaunch of web.za means that South Africans now have an unrestricted alternative to co.za, Zadna said. “For some time, there have been co.za calls for ZADNA to make available another unrestricted second-level domain to serve as an alternative to co.za,” it said.
“Until now, co.za has been the only unrestricted domain in .za. That meant if a person was interested in a name and the name was no longer available, they effectively had no other option in .za, and they would have to go to .com and other non-South African domains.”
Last year’s public consultation also showed that protection of trademarks should be prioritised in relaunching web.za. Zadna has given time to the web.za operator – the ZACR – to put in place necessary mechanisms that will guard against trademark abuse when web.za is reopened.
The ZACR is already in the process of launching the .joburg, .durban, .capetown and .africa domains. As part of this launch, it has developed a trademark protection system called the Mark Validation System, which allows local trademark owners to submit their marks to the ZACR beforehand so that if other parties apply for names identical to their trademarks, the domain name applicant will be warned of the trademark rights.
Should the applicant still elect to continue with the registration, the trademark owner will be informed of such registration. The ZACR has extended this system to the web.za launch and will also, in the not to distant future, extend these services to the co.za domain, too.
As a result of the trademark system, web.za is being relaunched in a phased approach where the first phase – called the sunrise – allows registered mark owners to register their marks as corresponding domain names in web.za before the public is allowed to apply for web.za names.
The first sunrise phase began on 1 May 2014 and should run until July. Next to sunrise is the land rush phase that will allow registration of names considered to be premium.
Following another sunrise and land rush phase, web.za will become generally available on a first-come-first-served basis, and this will happen by September this year.
Zadna is finalising registration and annual fees that will apply to web.za registrations once the domain becomes generally available. — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media