New South African Domains
A recent article in Business Day caused some interest in the online community, when it suggested that several new domains could be established in South Africa next year, including city-specific domains, such as Joburg.za.
The article was based around an interview with Mr. Vika Mpisane, GM of the .za Domain Name Authority, the official body for the management and administration of all .za domains. In the interview, Mr. Mpisane recommended that businesses protect their company names and trademarks by registering them, to prevent so-called cyber-squatters from unethically using them.
The article was however slightly ambiguous, partly due to space constraints, and perhaps understandably, caused some consternation. We received several queries about the need to register under these new domains, and as a result contacted the Domain Name Authority ourselves, to seek some clarification.
The Real Story
According to Mr. Msipane’s response to our query, the .za DNA will indeed be considering the addition of domain names, and the concurrent lifting of the ongoing moratorium against the registration of new .za domain names.
However, Mr. Mpisane assures us that extensive market research will be conducted, as well as consultations with the local online community before any decision is made. Not only has no decision been made in terms of the potential names of new domains, but whether or not they will be added at all is by no means confirmed. Mr. Mpisane further assures us that the online public will be kept fully informed before any steps are taken to establish such domains.
Finally, he explained that his comment regarding the 10 new domain names referred to ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), who are likely to establish new, generic (non-country) domains next year.
The Registration Issue
However, what people seem to be missing is an important, if tangential point. It should go without saying that it’s impossible to register a domain name on a domain that doesn’t exist yet.
But it’s quite possible to legally lose your domain name. Registering your company name (or domain name) as a legal trademark can be an important part of protecting your online and brand identity.