U.S. Close To Internet Names Approval

NEW YORK — The Commerce Department expressed confidence Monday that it could grant a California company extended rights to manage the most popular Internet addresses.

The deal could mean millions of dollars in revenues for VeriSign Inc., which now gets $6 annually for every domain name registered and entered into its master directories. Officials from Commerce, VeriSign and the oversight board for Internet names met for several hours Monday to discuss the details.

In a statement, Commerce Department general counsel Ted Kassinger said officials “are pleased with the progress and are confident an agreement can be reached in the near term.” He did not say when the department would rule or what conditions, if any, it might attach as part of approval.

Brian O’Shaughnessy, a VeriSign spokesman, said Commerce suggested some minor changes, but nothing that would break the deal or change it fundamentally.

Although VeriSign must give up “.org” by next year, it would keep “.net” until 2006 and “.com” until 2007. VeriSign would get favorable renewal options for “.com,” the most popular and recognizable suffix. Dot-com accounts for three-quarters of the 28 million “.com,” “.net” and “.org” names in use.

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