The window opens on December 3 for registering ".tel" domain sites. ".tel" is a new top level domain name that is intended to  identify repositories of corporate and personal contact information. As we become increasingly reliant on our Blackberries, iPhones, Palms, Treos and even plain old mobile phones, ".tel" domains are likely to become essential resources for accessing important information that once required a computer or even those old things known as "books".

The ".tel" domain name will allow anyone — individual or business — to store any and all of its contact information directly in the DNS ("Domain Naming System") for on-the-run access by anyone with a handheld device.  In other words, information stored in the ".tel" domain can comprise a virtual phone book: extending well beyond simple addresses and phone numbers, it can include links to websites, keywords and any other forms of contact information now known or conceived of in the future. And the page will not require "building" by the user.

A ".tel" address owner can thus assure that, with a simple click on the ".tel" address, anyone in the world can find all the contact information the owner wants to make available – no heavy phone book with microscopic print, no full website navigation, no directory assistance necessary.

An example:  Let’s say we here at Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, register the domain name  We can upload to that domain not only the firm’s address and main number, but also the names, direct-dial numbers  and email addresses of all of our personnel, as well as links to our  website and blog, and just about any other potentially useful contact  information. Anyone accessing from a handheld or other  device would get a listing of all that uploaded information, complete with hyperlinks that would allow the user to, e.g., directly dial our phone number(s) or click through to our website. No need for graphics or other high-falutin’ web development. 

Clearly, businesses should consider registering their business names, trade names and trademarks as ".tel" domain names alongside any .com, .org, .edu, .tv or other domains they already own. Such intellectual property can represent a very substantial investment in accumulated good will (not to mention promotion). Failure to incorporate those names and marks in ".tel" domains gives rise to the risk that cybersquatters will register them, in which case persons looking to reach your company would likely be directed elsewhere instead (and we can probably assume safely that "elsewhere" in this context means someplace with which you would prefer not to be associated).  The Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act and Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy  that we have previously discussed in this blog will apply to .tel domain names, but while helpful in evicting cybersquatters, they can be a cumbersome and even expensive process.  It is far simpler to invest the ounce of prevention by registering the name yourself in the "Sunrise" period discussed below if you own a trademark or  get in early during the "Landrush" period if you do not. 

".tel" domain names can be registered through any ICANN accredited registrars.  Registrations will be good for up to 10 years.  These domain names may be sold or transferred like any other intellectual property in the event that  all or part of a related business is sold. 

 A list of registrars will be published at upon the December 3 launch of this service.  Speaking of the launch, it will actually happen in three separate parts with trademark owners needing to act on or before February 2, 2009 to ensure ownership of a related domain name: 

Part 1 — Sunrise

  • 3:00 p.m., Greenwich Mean Time (10:00 a.m., Eastern Standard Time), on December 3, 2008 through 11:59 p.m., Greenwich Mean Time (6:59 p.m., EST), on February 2, 2009.
  • The owner or licensee of any federally registered trademark may apply for a .tel domain name incorporating that trademark.
  • The trademark must already be registered via an application originally filed prior to May 30, 2008 (so if you did not have an application on file by that date, despite our earlier pleas to register your call signs for federal trademark protection, you will be excluded from registering in this first phase.

Part 2 — Landrush

  • 3:00 p.m., Greenwich Mean Time (10:00 a.m., EST), on February 3, 2009 through 11:59 p.m., Greenwich Mean Time (6:59 p.m., EST), on March 23, 2009.
  • Anyone may apply for any previously unregistered .tel domain name at a premium price. In other words, this registration period is open to those who are willing to pay more to obtain a specific .tel domain name.
  • Registration will be on a first come, first served basis.  If you have a domain name, but do not have a federally registered trademark that corresponds to the domain name, you may only register the same domain as a ".tel" domain name in the Landrush period and are would be best served by doing so as soon as possible after the Landrush opens on February 3. 

 Part 3– General Availability

  • Anytime after 3:00 p.m., Greenwich Mean Time (10:00 a.m., EST), on March 24, 2009
  • Anyone may apply for any previously unregistered .tel domain name.  Any .tel domain names that have still not been registered will be available for registration at a price lower than the premium price offered during Landrush phase.
  • Registration will be on a first come, first served basis.

We urge our clients that have trademarks, especially those consisting of call signs, to register a .tel domain name during the Sunrise period. Those without a registered trademark — including those who already have the same term registered in other top level domains — should still consider paying the premium rate to register a domain name when the Landrush phase opens at 3:00 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time on February 3, 2009.   Please do not hesitate to contact a Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, P.L.C. attorney if you need assistance or advice in the registration process.