Monday, 6 October 2014

gTLDs: are patent and trade mark lawyers "legal professionals"?

This blogger has recently received an email circular from Minds + Machines regarding two of the no-doubt attractive but (in his opinion) troublesome and unnecessary generic top-level domains that readers of this and other IP blogs may be queuing up to throw their money at.  It reads, in relevant part:
London, 3rd October 2014: Minds + Machines, the registry for the .law and .abogado top-level domains, is pleased to announce general eligibility requirements for registration of second-level domains in .law or .abogado. The .law and .abogado top-level domains are expected to launch in early 2015. “Abogado” is the Spanish word for “lawyer.”

Both .law and .abogado will be restricted to licensed lawyers or law firms, and all initial applications and renewals will be examined to verify that the registrant’s license is current [if there is no ongoing verification that the registrant's licence remains current, the fact that it was current at the time of getting its .law gTD won't be much use to clients though]. To be eligible for a name as a law firm, the firm must provide legal services and a partner or equivalent must be a licensed lawyer [what's the equivalent of a partner?]. Other legal professionals, such as paralegals or researchers, will not qualify for a .law or .abogado domain name [UK patent attorneys and trade mark attorneys are professionals -- a term that is not normally used to embrace 'paralegals' or 'researchers' -- but they are not lawyers. Despite their rights of audience in judicial proceedings, does this preclude them from using .law?]. A challenge procedure will be available in the case of disbarment or other event that causes a current registrant to no longer qualify for a .law or .abogado name. Final detailed rules will be announced prior to the launch.

In general, registrants may register their own names, firm names or an accepted variation of it at standard prices. Generic names under .law and .abogado - for instance, or - will follow the same eligibility requirements, but will be priced at a premium.
More information about these gTLDs is available here

There are presumably lots of other questions to consider.  What, for example, of the practitioner who is registered to practise in his or her home country but is actually living and practising in another in which no practising certificate is held?  Will the use of .law constitute some form of implicit representation as to the standard or quality of the services provided? And what of the holder of a .law name who is in the process of appealing against a decision to disbar him?

Do let us know what you think!


  1. oh Jeremy, not lawyers indeed. You will distress the sensibilities of all those at ITMA anbd CIPA who embraced the detlights of the Legal Services Act in order that they could claim just that to be lawyers. It has not worked for representation before the UPC and now it wont provide them with a .law. What a waste

  2. Sob. We are in the twilight zone.