There’s a new top-level domain name ("TLD") on the block, and broadcasters and other media companies will want to protect URLs that include their call signs, unique slogans and positioning statements or other registered marks or names. The new TLD will be ".tel." Unlike .com, .net, .org, and other current TLDs that link to websites, the new .tel TLD is designed specifically for access by mobile devices such as the Blackberry and iPhone and will access to the contact information of the holder of the .tel URL without the need for a standard website. The theory behind the .tel TLD is to allow instant access to contact information without having to access a registrant’s website. When contact information is accessed via mobile devices, the telephone numbers will appear as "hot links" that will dial those numbers upon touch or selection. Of course, links to websites may also be provided, but the primary purpose of the TLD is to provide a global contact directory without the need for the user to have Outlook or other address books or for the registrant to have a website.
Beginning December 3, 2008, anyone with a registered trademark or service mark can register a .tel domain name using that mark for a cost estimated to be in the $500 range. This so-called "sunrise" period will last for two months. Beginning February 3, 2009, there will be a so-called "landrush" period allowing anyone to register any unregistered .tel domain names, including generic or descriptive marks or names, such as radio.tel or cable.tel, on a first-come, first-served basis. (Bad faith use of a third party’s trademark will be subject to cancellation under existing domain name dispute procedures.) The "landrush" period will last until March 23, 2009, after which the .tel TLD will be generally available to anyone at a much reduced fee, currently estimated to be as low as $1.25 per month.
The .tel TLD will be available from many of the same registrars that provide registration of .com and other existing TLDs. It will be open to both businesses and individuals, and will allow for the option to make contact info privately available. There is a growing sense that .tel names will be in great demand and that it may pay to protect your intellectual property by registering it in a .tel domain name before someone else beats you to it. Look into this prospect now!