Colombia: Domain Names In Colombia

Last Updated: 2 February 2001

1. Entity In Charge:

In Colombia the entity in charge of assigning Domain Names is the "University of Los Andes" through its Computer Center (Centro de Cómputo). In 1990, InterNIC delegated this function to the University, because of for the following reasons:

  • It was the entity with the appropriate infrastructure at that time.
  • It was the first entity to lead the connection between its General Library and the biggest largest Library in Colombia, in order to provide access to the latter.
  • It was the entity that actively participated in the meetings of the Internet Society (ISOC) back in 1992.
  • It was the entity that assumed the leading role, with the support of other entities, of conducting the integration process of Colombia with the Internet.

It must be noted that the Colombian Administrator of Domain Names is working hard to adjust its policies and administration to the principles established by INTERNIC. However, many legal issues are pending for decision by this entity (i.e. the assignment of Domain Names).

2. Policies On Domain Names:

To date no bill or legislation on Domain Names exists, but there are some policies established by the Colombian Domain Name Administrator that are compulsory for the registration of Domain Names. The policies for registering a Domain Name are:

  1. Have an identification number registered with the correspondent authorities in Colombia, such as the identification number for individuals or the tax identification number for companies.
  2. Submit all the information that the Colombian Domain Name Administrator might need, to asses the application of the domain name, regarding: (i) the existence of a similar or identical Domain Names registration; (ii) the appropriate use of the domain name in accordance with the purpose of the company that is applying for the registration of the domain name; (iii) the existence of the contact persons, for payment, administrative and technical purposes; and (iv) the purposes of use of the Domain Name.
  3. Not to violate any Intellectual Property Rights.
  4. The truthfulness of the information provided in the application, compelled the applicant.
  5. The only valid characters for a DNS domain name are the English alphabetical letters ("a" - "z", DNS does not make a distinction between capital and lower-case letters), digits ("0" - "9") and hyphen ("-").
  6. The character "ñ" is not valid.
  7. The first and/or last domain character shall not be a hyphen.
  8. The minimum length admitted for a second level domain under "co" is 3 characters.
  9. The maximum length admitted for third level domains under "co" is 63 characters (the maximum recommended, for practical reasons and configuration, is 24 characters).
  10. Applicants are responsible for the use of Domain Names and sub-domains that, in turn, are delegated.
  11. Domain Names shall have at least two independent servers to transfer the names to machine addresses and that shall be physically separated and if possible in different nets.

Finally, it most be noted that there is not a policy regarding Dispute Resolution Procedure. Thus, if a claim arises from the use of a Domain Name that is registered as a trademark in Colombia, the owner of a trademark will not have an action or procedure established by NIC Colombia to resolve the dispute and thus, it will be necessary to initiate a trademark infringement action before the courts.

3. Procedure For Registering A Domain Name:

As we can see from the above, there are no restrictions on who can apply for a Domain Name. However, a company or organization wishing to request a Domain Name shall submit the Tax Identification Number (NIT). This has been a problem for the foreign companies, because a power of attorney should be granted in order to obtain a Tax Identification Number, causing a delay in the process of registration of Domain Names. Thus, the Colombian Domain Name Administrator is allowing that authorized companies or individuals in Colombia register Domain Names on their behalf. For that purpose an authorization by the foreign company should be granted and sent by fax. It is not necessary that this authorization comes be authenticated or with any other formality. However, the letter should be written in the applicant’s letterhead.

On the other hand, although there is no specific provision regarding certification on related IP rights, at present the Domain Name Administrator is requiring a certification from the Trademark Office stating if the domain name exists as trade name or trademark.

4. Conclusions:

A more defined and clear policy must be established so that the Internet users can assure its rights on the Internet. Many legal issues are still pending to be regulated, like such as Dispute Resolution Procedures as well as the assignment of Domain Names.

Likewise, the topic on registration of Domain Names raises many important issues. Being one of them if just International Agreements are needed in order to preserve the Internet as a non- regulatory medium or for the contrary, if a legal framework is necessary (legislation) that leads to an organized and predictable medium.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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