Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA)

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PRESIDENT BUHARI APPROVES THE APPOINTMENT OF MRS MONI UDOH AS PERMANENT SECRETARY

The President, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR recently approved the appointment of twelve (12) new Permanent Secretaries. The appointment was announced by a Press Release from the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation on the 16th of June 2020. Among the twelve new Permanent Secretaries is Mrs Moni Udoh. The press release stated that the swearing-in and deployment will be announced in due course. NiRA congratulates Mrs Moni Udoh and other newly appointed  Permanent Secretaries and wishes them all the best in their respective new roles.

TECHNOLOGY IS THE MAINSTAY

As the world gradually reopens albeit slowly and cautiously with restrictions in place, the importance of Technology and the urgent need to position solutions in every sphere of human endeavour, are topics on the front burner.

Meetings, by default, now hold virtually and face-to-face engagements are very limited. Businesses have had to respond to new challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We must say that we are impressed with the ongoing responses. People have become innovative and creative in their responses to the COVID-19 challenge.

Google started off in the second quarter of 2020 by providing Google Meet Video Conference Service free to those who wish to use the facility. Then by June 2020, Google released news of their noise-cancelling AI for meetings. This delightful innovation silences everything else but our voices in meetings. Courier companies are cashing out; providing food and household essentials. Hospitals are setting up virtual systems for consultations, and schools have gone online. It was heart-warming to hear that in Lagos State in Nigeria, a donation of 20,000 digital appliances has just been announced, in support of learning in government-owned schools.

Throughout the periods of lockdown and partial lift of the lockdown in Nigeria, NiRA has continued to provide sterling support to all. The NiRA Accredited Registrars have continued to provide .ng domain registration services and domain hosting. The systems and applications have continued to be the foundation on which most was providing online services to their clients.

There is no doubt that Technology has become a pillar for stabilising the world in these uncertain times and that as it responds to various needs, innovating quickly, it will take its rightful place as the mainstay of global development.

Muhammed Rudman

President, NiRA

WHAT TRADEMARK OWNERS NEED TO KNOW TO AVOID DOMAIN NAME CYBERSQUATTING

Cybersquatting (also known as domain squatting), is registering, trafficking in, or using an Internet domain name with bad faith, intending to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else.

According to the Nigerian Cybercrime Act 2015, Cybersquatting is prohibited and a criminal offence. The Act states that any person who intentionally takes or makes use of a name, business name, trademark, domain name or other word or phrase which was already registered, owned or in use by another individual, or corporate body, or belonging to either the Federal, State or Local Governments in Nigeria, on the internet or any other computer network, without the necessary authority, and for the purpose of interfering with their use by the owner, registrant or legitimate prior user, commits an offence under this Act and shall be Cybersquatting. They shall be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term of not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than N5,000,000.00 or to both fine and imprisonment. There have been several discussions on the effectiveness and adequacy of the Act. But that discussion is not for this platform.

The enactment of the law and consequent application of the penalty should be sufficient to scare any domain squatter trying to engage in domain squatting, but the reality is that there are still some persons out there perpetrating the act of domain squatting. There are some who want to benefit from the hard work of others by trying to use their brands as a launchpad for their own business. People need to respect the work of others and desist from infringing on the right of others.

Trademark owners should be aware of the Nigerian Cybercrime Act 2015 and the importance of registering their trademark as a domain name and it could prevent domain squatting and help promote brand protection.

The Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA) has many policies that govern its operations. One of such policies is the NiRA (.ng) Domain Name Policy,  which states that domain registration is on a first-come, first-served basis and section 4.1 of the NiRA General Registration Policy states, "It is the Registrant’s obligation and responsibility to ensure that all Registration Information, as defined in the Registrant Agreement, is up-to-date, complete and accurate. Any update of Registration Information must be done through the Registrant’s Registrar of record unless otherwise permitted by NIRA". But also, the NiRA policies recognise the right of the owner of a trademark or tradename obtained from the Trademarks, Patent & Design Office, Federal Ministry Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI).

The Trademark owner should take note of the following and register their domain name:

It’s easier to avoid being the victim of a domain squatter. Here are some tips to assist to prevent such situations  in the future:

  1. Contact a NiRA Accredited Registrar via https://www.nira.org.ng/accredited-registrars for the .ng domain name of your choice.

  2. Domain Name registration is on a first come first served basis 
    Squatters are always out to register popular names in order to profit from the names later. The bonafide owner of such a name might not be able to retrieve it or might have to part with a huge amount of money to acquire the name.

  3. Register the domain you want before you need it
    Register the .ng domain name you want on the portal of your NiRA Accredited Registrar. It has been proven that domain squatters often buy recently searched domain names in the hopes of selling it to the original searcher.

  4. Register similar names
    Consider buying domains with multiple extensions, on other TLDs, to prevent squatters from buying them. Research common misspellings of your domain and consider registering them as well. This is also a form of brand protection.

How to reclaim your .ng  domain name

If you believe a domain name infringes on your copyright or trademark, contact the registrant of the domain name, with sufficient evidence, contact NiRA to assist to resolve the situation and/or use the NiRA Dispute Resolution Policy (NDRP) to file a dispute with regards to that domain name.

At every point in a dispute process, you would be required to provide sufficient evidence of your trademark or copyright ownership from the Trademark Offices, FMITI for the .ng domain name. If this is not available, it might necessitate the bona-fide owner paying a handsome amount of money to the squatter to get the desired name.

ICANN AND THE SCHOOLS ON INTERNET GOVERNANCE

Building capacity or providing training in Internet Governance (IG) is critical to enabling stakeholder groups to participate fully in all IG-related processes. Schools on Internet Governance (SIGs) were created specifically to support this objective.

The first SIG emerged in 2007, a couple of years after phase two of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and just one year after the first Internet Governance Forum (IGF). SIGs continue to grow, and today there are close to 20 initiatives such as Nigerian School on Internet Governance around the world, some global, some regional, and some national.

ICANN has played a key role in SIGs and related initiatives as a partner, sponsor, faculty member, and/or student. ICANN's role as the coordinator of the Domain Name System (DNS) and facilitator of the multistakeholder approach, as well our position as a leading global IG institution, are important topics in many SIG's curriculum. ICANN's rationale for supporting these initiatives includes awareness-raising, capacity development, an obligation to explain how the DNS actually works, outreach and engagement, and internal training opportunities.

The ICANN community has devoted significant resources to developing ICANN's Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2021-2025, which in part focuses on building capacity for technical and operational objectives.  To ensure alignment with the goals in the Strategic Plan, ICANN has conducted a review of SIGs around the world and identified a set of good practices to guide our future support of these initiatives.

ICANN engages with current SIG partners to share their thinking about how they can align ICANN participation in individual schools that share ICANN’s core objectives. ICANN also plans to simplify how new school organizers can engage in the future.

SOURCE: ICANN

ICANN69 TO BE HELD AS VIRTUAL PUBLIC MEETING

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has announced that the ICANN69 Annual General Meeting (AGM), which was to be held in Hamburg, Germany, will not proceed as an in-person meeting. Instead, the ICANN Board has directed the ICANN org to coordinate with the ICANN community on the best way forward for ICANN69 to meet the expected outcomes of an ICANN AGM and support the community's ongoing policy advice and development work, despite being unable to meet in person.

The meeting, scheduled for 17th to 22nd October 2020, will be the third time ICANN will hold a Virtual Public Meeting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. ICANN67, originally scheduled for Cancún, Mexico, was held as a virtual meeting, as will the upcoming ICANN68, originally scheduled for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The health and safety of the ICANN community is always a top priority, and as such, convening ICANN69 as an in-person meeting is not expected to be feasible by its scheduled date. While progress has been made to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, there are still several barriers remaining that prevent holding large international meetings, such as ICANN's Public Meetings. These include ongoing restrictions on international travel, diminished flight availability, challenges in obtaining visas, physical distancing requirements, the risks posed to the local host community, and the possibility of a resurgence resulting in further lockdowns.

The ICANN Board appreciates the importance of face-to-face interactions and looks forward to a return to in-person ICANN Public Meetings. ICANN is currently scheduled to convene ICANN70 in Cancun, Mexico, and ICANN71 in The Hague, The Netherlands.

ICANN org, in consultation with the ICANN community, will build on the lessons learned during ICANN67 and ICANN68 to improve upon the meeting format. In its decision, the Board directed the ICANN org to work with the community leaders to determine how to ensure that the virtual meeting fulfils the community's agreed-upon priorities.

Those interested in attending ICANN69 will still be required to register. An announcement will be posted to https://icann.org once registration is open. To learn more about remote participation, visit ICANN Public Meetings.

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