Physician practice owners and other healthcare provider organizations that hold registered trademarks can begin reserving Internet domain names ending in ".pro" to designate themselves as licensed professionals and have built-in access to secure e-mail communication.
RegistryPro, an Atlanta-based subsidiary of Internet name registration service Register.com on Wednesday opened a 10-week "sunrise" period for so-called "defensive registrations." Until approximately July 1, trademark holders have the exclusive opportunity to secure the rights to use their brand names with a .pro suffix before other professionals can claim .pro domain names.
Registration will open to other medical, legal and accounting professionals in early July, RegistryPro spokesperson Amy Moorhouse says.
RegistryPro is the exclusive operator of the .pro top-level domain, designated by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which coordinates global Internet address assignments. Actual registration of .pro names is handled by several registrar companies.
To be eligible for early sign-up, registrants must have a nationally registered trademark issued before Sept. 30, 2002, according to RegistryPro.
Defensive registrants may choose to block a trademark across all three profession-specific subdomains that will be activated this summer--.med.pro for medical professionals, .cpa.pro for accountants and .law.pro for attorneys--or they may limit their preregistration to a specific profession. Such a move could head off future legal battles over name ownership.
Moorhouse says the .pro suffix will be attractive to physicians and other professionals because it has built-in security features not available with .com, .net, .org or other popular Internet endings.
To be eligible for a .pro name, an individual or organization must certify professional status. Successful registrants will receive a unique digital certificate that can be loaded into most e-mail programs, allowing users to send encrypted, digitally signed e-mail without purchasing additional software.
"We're actually vouching for the professional," Moorhouse says.
Studies, including the annual Modern Physician/PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of key information technology issues for physician executives, have indicated security concerns limit the number of physicians who communicate with patients via e-mail.
"There is quite a bit of interest because of the security component of the .pro domain," Moorhouse says.