In 2010 the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved, previously it had been an independent Caribbean country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. With the dissolution, Sint Maarten became an autonomous country and filed an application for its own country code top-level domain (ccTLD). The sponsoring organization, SX Registry, is a private company incorporated in Sint Maarten, and wholly owned by SX Registry SA, a company headquartered in Luxembourg using OpenRegistry. There are no restrictions when registering a .SX domain name and a local presence is not necessary. .AN remains the Internet ccTLD for the former Netherlands Antilles, but it is gradually being phased out and as of November 2010 there are only, approximately, 800 domain names still registered.
.SX was an obvious choice, as the territory has long been known, both locally and internationally, as ‘SXM’ (the IATA code for the island’s International Airport). This code was available in the ISO (International Organisation Standardisation) 3166 list and was awarded to the territory in December 2010.
Following a decision from ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the IANA (Internet Assigned Names Authority) has awarded the .SX ccTLD to the SX Registry. The Registry, a partnership between the European Registry Provider OpenRegistry and the Canadian company MediaFusion, will promote the usage and registration of .SX domain names globally.
SX Registry has appointed the ClearingHouse for Intellectual Property (CHIP), the service aimed at assisting brand owners in securing and safeguarding their trademark rights in the domain name space, already used by .CO, .ASIA, .FR. Additionally, should a case of domain name abuse be raised the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) process will be implemented along with the traditional UDRP and, when abuse has been proven, the offending domain name will be suspended (the domain name will not be transferred to the complainant).
.SX registration phases
For the protection of all users, the registration process will have several phases:
- Grandfather period, agreed in March, 2011, ends on May 2, 2012; current owners of a .AN domain name registered before December, 15 2010 whose Admin-C contact was established in Sint Maarten will have the right to register the corresponding .SX domain name.
- Sunrise period, May 3 to July 4, 2012; owners of registered trademarks, validated by CHIP, may register their .SX domain names.
- Sint Maarten priority period, July 5 to September 4, 2012; allows individuals and companies from Sint Maarten to register .SX domain names. However, there are conditions to be met to prove eligibility for this phase.
- Landrush period, September 5 to October 4, 2012; any interested individual or company may register up to two .SX domain names, multiple applications will be subject to auction.
- General Availability begins October 5, 2012; open to everyone, without restriction.
It is strongly recommended that .AN owners, meeting the above conditions and who wish to register the equivalent .SX domain name, should register before May 2. Following this date they will lose any preferential advantage.
Columbus sailed the ocean blue
Originally claimed by the Spanish but left unoccupied, the French stepped in and claimed ownership along with all the islands from Trinidad to Bermuda. The Dutch West Indies Company, wanting the island under their control, populated the southern half and claimed ownership. Spain tried to regain control, and after a brief take-over of the Dutch settlements and a long battle, they eventually left.
Both the French and the Dutch wanted control of the island and after several battles, an accord was reached in 1648 with the signing of the Treaty of Concordia. The treaty stated that the island be separated into two distinct countries – one side owned by the French (St Martin) and the other by the Dutch (Sint Maarten). This agreement has subsequently created a fascinating island where two diverse cultures exist side by side, in perfect harmony.
Whilst the population of Sint Maarten is barely 40,000, local businesses adopting the .SX domain extension will benefit from having their own identity on the Internet, as will the two million tourists that visit the island every year. Additionally, since the extension is virgin territory and wide open to anyone without restriction; it will be attractive to many looking for a different ending!