A New Top-Level Domain Name Targeted at Mobile Devices
The "dot mobi" name is a different way to do a different thing. Unlike "conventional" top-level domain names (as if domain names could ever be truly conventional!) - such as .com, .net, .org, .us, and others, websites that work with the .mobi domain name aren't meant for people surfing the web using a personal computer. Rather, websites designed to work with .mobi domain names will only work in connection with "the mobile web" - which can be reached by use of mobile phones, Personal Digital Assistants, and other devices connected to the Internet. With the ever-expanding availability of broadband wireless internet service, this foreshadows a new way for many companies to reach their customers in a new setting - "on the go."
With the endorsement of global heavyweights (including Ericsson, Google, GSM Association, Hutchison, Microsoft, Nokia, Orascom Telecom, Samsung Electronics, Syniverse, T-Mobile, Telefónica Móviles, TIM, and Vodafone) .mobi is the first top-level domain name dedicated exclusively to delivering the Internet to mobile phones and other portable devices. In order to accomplish this, the registry that runs the domain name has set up guidelines and made available website designer toolkits to ensure that content intended for .mobi websites is formatted and delivered in a mobile-device-friendly manner.
Created to resolve problems that are commonly experienced when trying to view websites from portable handsets, .mobi promises increased public access to the Internet in a world where four mobile phones are purchased for every one personal computer and where this year alone the wireless handset market is predicted to exceed US$136 billion. It is widely believed that the use of the .mobi suffix will encourage the usage of advanced functions in mobile phones and PDAs, thereby increasing the market potential for such portable devices. An article published in The Wall Street Journal observed that many major communications companies have backed the .mobi domain name because, in turn, the new domain name will encourage the sale of "smartphones" and other Internet-ready mobile devices. (Li Yuan, New Domain Name - .mobi - Could Spur Wireless Web, The Wall Street Journal (May 26, 2006) (available online at http://webreprints.djreprints.com/1480430400196.html).) The article also noted that the .mobi domain name will give companies like Google, Yahoo, and MSN a chance to market more effectively on cell phones, which advertisers hope will be more effective because the cell phone is perceived as a more personal device than a PC. As this happens, websites specifically catering to mobile users are likely to spring up and take advantage of the opportunity to reach consumers where they can often be found - out of their homes, out of their offices, and on the road - when they are most ready to make purchasing decisions about many goods and services.
Applicants may file to register domain names on the .mobi register, on a first-come, first-served basis. An earlier "Sunrise Registration Period" (which ran from June 12 - September 22, 2006) was held during which only trademark owners could file an application to register their own marks in the .mobi registry.
Lee Plave is a partner in the firm Plave Koch PLC, based in Reston, Virginia.
He served as an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission from 1983-87 before entering private practice in 1987. He has extensive experience drafting and negotiating franchise, license, and distribution agreements for international and domestic transactions, and advising clients in all aspects of franchise and distribution law. He also counsels manufacturers, distributors, and franchisors with respect to the application of technology to franchise and distribution systems, including matters such as the development and implementation of e-commerce strategies, system-wide internet roll-out policies and procedures, cybersquatting and domain name disputes, consumer complaint and "cybergripe" web sites, unauthorized e commerce, software and hardware licensing, and issues relating to online and internet services.
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