Top Level Domain Names Set To Go


NEW YORK — Trademark holders will be able to stake claims to “.biz” Internet addresses beginning Monday and to “.info” names next month. The general public will have to wait until summer.

Names with the “.info” suffix will be operational as early as August, while “.biz” sites will be reachable on Oct. 1.

The schedule was announced Tuesday as operators of the two new top-level domains completed contracts with the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization selected by the U.S. government in 1998 to oversee Internet addressing.

Of the new names, only “.info” will be open to any individual, group, or company. Operators of “.biz” will accept bids only from businesses, although they won’t ask for any proof.

ICANN is still finalizing terms for the five other new suffixes it selected last November: “.name” for individuals, “.pro” for professionals, “.aero” for aviation, “.coop” for business cooperatives and “.museum” for museums.

The seven new names could help alleviate the crunch for names ending in “.com.” Adding new top-level domains is akin to creating new area codes as phone numbers run out.

It’s unclear, though, whether Internet users familiar primarily with “.com” will embrace the new names, the first addressing expansion since the 1980s.

Operators of “.biz” and “.info” plan campaigns touting their suffixes as global alternatives to a U.S.-centric “.com.” Afilias Ltd., the Ireland-based company created to operate “.info,” will begin a “sunrise period” in late June. For 30 days, trademark holders will be able to seek “.info” names. If multiple companies apply, Afilias will choose one at random.

In late July or early August, Afilias will open registrations to the rest of the Net community. Afilias will process that round of names at random before switching to the traditional first-come, first-served system.

Names will become operational a week after open registration begins.

NeuLevel Inc., the Sterling, Va., company that will run “.biz,” will begin its trademark service on Monday. For a fee, trademark holders can submit claims before registration begins. But they won’t be able to obtain names right away. Instead, they will be notified if someone else beats them to a name, so that they can challenge it.

Multiple companies — such as Apple Computers and Apple Bank — could claim the same trademark, and NeuLevel will refer any disputes to arbitrators.

A “land rush” period will take place June 25 to Sept. 25, during which NeuLevel will accept multiple applications for the same names and choose one at random. Any names in dispute over a trademark will be placed on hold.

NeuLevel’s “.biz” names could clash with a very small percentage of Internet users who support an unofficial directory system that also includes “.biz.” NeuLevel’s chief executive, Doug Armentrout, dismissed the alternative systems as “illegitimate.”

(Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)