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Cape Town – Business and trademark owners were urged to register dotAfrica (.africa) domain names matching their brand names or face a battle to wrest them from others at a later stage.

The ZA Central Registry (ZACR) said that the sunrise period for registrations, which opened earlier this month, closes on June 2.

After the 60-day period that favours registered and recognised brand owners, it said, domain names would be registered on a first come, first served basis and this potentially valuable internet real estate could fall into the hands of so-called cyber squatters.

In the past, cyber squatters have played havoc with brands and have sometimes demanded extortionate sums of money from owners of those brands to give up control of them.

The NPO that manages various .za domains, such as,, and said proactive trademark owners had already started securing their .africa geographic top level domain names.

The ZA Central Registry (ZACR), which trades as Registry Africa, is also the registry operator for .africa. The organisation said the domains would be launched to the public during the general availability phase from July 4.

The “complexities involved in trying to wrest intellectual property away from those who would have snapped up the available domain names after the sunrise phase are innumerable”, it warned.

“Trademark owners who do not secure their .africa domain names during the current 60-day sunrise phase may not be able to guarantee the availability of their .africa domain names.”

Registry Africa’s chief executive Lucky Masilela said: “The very real possibility of opportunists registering one’s trademarks exists and it is best prevented by the simple act of applying now for .africa domain names that match registered or validated intellectual property.”

Masilela described .africa, the domain for Africa, as “an African initiative created by Africans for the international internet community”.

“In order to ensure responsible growth, the .africa registry will place special emphasis on securing the rights of intellectual property owners during the sunrise period,” Masilela said.