As the internet continues to expand, there are new opportunities to use recently approved new domain name extensions similar to .COM, .EDU, .ORG, and .NET. One of these domain names of particular interest to financial institutions is the .BANK domain name.

All state, regional and provincial banks, savings associations, and national banks qualify to register the .BANK domain name with an approved domain name registrar. These institutions can only purchase domains with the .BANK extension that correspond to its own name or trademarks. Domain names can be purchased even if the institution does not have a federal trademark registration as long as it can show use and ownership of the trademark.

The .BANK domain names become generally available on a first-come, first-serve basis to all qualified banks at 8 PM EDT/7 PM CDT on June 23, 2015 with an approved registrar. If your bank owns a federal trademark registration, they may be able to file an earlier request for the .BANK domain name for their trademark between now and June 17, 2015.

To ensure that only legitimate members of the banking community are able to register a .BANK domain name and to provide a higher level of security to consumers, a strict verification process and security check is required. Part of the mandatory verification process includes email authentication and enhanced encryption. In addition, .BANK domain names must be hosted on .BANK name servers to ensure compliance. Re-verification is required every two years in order to retain the .BANK domain name. You may wish to discuss this process with your IT professional to ensure compliance and readiness when the .BANK domain names become available.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact the attorneys in our Banking or Trademark practice groups.