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ICANN agrees to expand top level domain names

Firms can apply for almost any word such as .love, .web or .music

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is to expand the number of URL suffixes available.

Currently there are 22 top-level domain endings, such as .com, .info and .org. However, the move by ICANN will ensure URLs can end with almost any word and in any language, so web addresses could feature suffixes such as .web, .music and .love.

"ICANN has opened the internet's naming system to unleash the global human imagination," Ican's president and chief executive, Rod Beckstrom, said.

"Today's decision respects the rights of groups to create new top-level domains in any language or script. We hope this allows the domain name system to better serve all of mankind."

ICANN said it would begin accepting top-level domain applications between January and April 2012. To stop cyber-squatters, firms that apply for a URL with a new top level domain will be required maintain their website accessed through the URL.

Andreas Edler, managing director at web hosting firm Hostway UK, said ICANN's decision will certainly stand to change the internet landscape, but warned cmpanies they need to carefully think about protecting their brand equity.

"If they don't they could easily find themselves falling foul to cybersquatters. Cybersquatting can still cost brands thousands in lost sales, reputation and legal battles; therefore many businesses will need to ensure they get the right advices when it comes to this new raft of domain names not only to protect themselves but also to ensure that their web presence is optimised in the future," he said.

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