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New Internet Domain Names for Banks: What You Need to Know Now

The world of the Internet is in a state of change. In 2008, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the administrator of the Domain Name System, approved a new program that enables the creation of an unlimited number of new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs). In response, a coalition of banks, insurance companies and financial services associations partnered to establish fTLD Registry Services, LLC (fTLD) in order to apply for and operate the .BANK gTLD on behalf of the global banking community. On September 25, 2014, fTLD was granted the right to operate .BANK as a new gTLD.

The .BANK gTLDs will open up much-needed real estate on the Internet, providing new marketing, branding and cross-selling opportunities for the banking community. Eligible institutions will be able to obtain domain name registrations with a .BANK suffix instead of .COM. In addition, fTLD will implement enhanced control systems to mitigate cyber risks from malicious activities over the Internet. For example, registrants will be required to include charter verification by the registrant's regulator before they can register a domain name in the .BANK gTLD.

The registration system for the .BANK gTLD became available mid-May 2015 for banks with registered trademarks with ICANN's Trademark Clearing House (TMCH). The figure below illustrates the timeline for obtaining .BANK gTLDs.

domain name for banks

Domains will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis in all registration periods. The Qualified Launch Program for Founders period was available for founding members of fTLD that have registered their trademarks in ICANN's TMCH. The Sunrise period will be available for eligible members of the global banking community that have registered their trademark with ICANN's TMCH. During the 30-day Sunrise period, banks that meet fTLD's eligibility requirements will have an advance opportunity, before names are available to other eligible members of the banking community, to register domain names that are exact matches to their registered trademarks. The Founders period will be available to the founding members of fTLD that have yet to register their domains. Eligible members of the global banking community that do not meet the Sunrise or Founders requirements can then register their trademarks, on an ongoing basis, during the General Availability period starting June 24, 2015.

The .BANK gTLD provides new opportunities for marketing, branding and other promotional activities. However, once the Sunrise and Founders periods expire, domain names will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis. Institutions, therefore, should review their current marketing plan to determine if and when registration of the newly available .BANK domain names is appropriate.

© 2020 Vedder PriceNational Law Review, Volume V, Number 160


About this Author

James M. Kane, Vedder Price Law Firm, Finance Attorney

James M. Kane joined Vedder Price in 1993 as a shareholder and is a member of the firm’s Financial Institutions Group. From 1981 until joining Vedder Price, he was the district counsel in Chicago for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. As the chief legal officer for the Six-State Central District (Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky), he was responsible for providing legal and policy advice to the Deputy Comptroller and the 500 examiners of the Central District. In this capacity, he authored opinions on a wide variety of banking law issues and represented...

Daniel C. McKay, Vedder Price Law Firm, Financial Attorney

Daniel C. McKay, II concentrates his practice in the representation of financial institutions and corporations and their officers, directors and shareholders in connection with mergers and acquisitions, securities offerings, corporate finance, corporate governance and regulatory and compliance matters.  He has been involved in more than 150 bank or thrift  mergers and acquisitions/securities offerings, with aggregate consideration of these deals totaling over $50 billion.

John E. Munro, Vedder Price Law Firm, Intellectual Property Attorney

John E. Munro joined Vedder Price P.C. as an associate and member of the firm’s Intellectual Property Group.  Mr. Munro counsels clients in a variety of intellectual property matters including patent preparation and prosecution and infringement and patentability analysis.

Prior to joining Vedder Price, Mr. Munro worked for over ten years as an engineer in various capacities, including seven years with an automobile OEM.  Mr. Munro’s work experience includes all aspects of product development from early design stages through product launch.  He also led various projects designed to...