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13 - The Web in China

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Firms rush for .cn Top Level Domains (TLD)

Firms interested in developing trade with China were able to register .cn domains for the first time in March 2003. A number of companies are seizing the opportunity to register .cn domains for their trademarks and brands to prevent other parties from registering them.

Up until this date, the .cn domain was highly restricted and firms wanting to register an address had to meet strict criteria including a physical presence in China. However, these restrictions have been gradually lifted. From December 2002, international companies were able to register a third-level .cn domain, with a, or suffix. For example: or or

The .cn international database is managed by NeuLevel, a subsidiary of domain registry NeuStar. (See Domain names are available on a first come, first served basis through accredited registrars, a list of whom is posted on NeuStar’s Web site. NeuStar’s general manager for Europe, said any companies interested in trading in China should register a .cn domain. “In China, they will be looking for a .cn name”, she added.

Even UK firms not interested in doing business in China might want to protect their trademarks in the cn space. Firms that fail to register .cn addresses related to their brands or company names could find their names registered by a third party. They would then need to either go through a dispute resolution process to claim the domain, or purchase it from the owner at an inflated price.

“It is much easier to register the name in the first place,” advised Idler. “The retail price ranges from £40 to £100 per name, while the dispute resolution process takes place in China, and all the relevant paperwork is in Chinese.”

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