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US companies show most interest in new top-level domain names

ICANN is examining applications to create 1930 new generic TLDs, 884 of them from US companies but just 17 from Africa

Seven companies want news, eight want music or a movie, and seven want love. Four want pizza, but none of them make it. Only two want sex, and one even wants a unicorn.

Those names figure among the 1930 applications to create and operate new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) revealed Wednesday by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which coordinates the DNS (Domain Name System), selecting registries and setting rules for management of top-level domain names including .com, .org, .info and .biz.

The gTLD "google" was claimed by Charleston Road Registry for Google, along with 100 others including "android", "gmail," "page," "play," "search," "store" and "youtube." Charleston Road is one of the streets that crosses Google's campus in Mountain View, California. App was applied for by 13 companies, including Amazon, through its European subsidiary, and Google.

Chrysler Group wants to register "chrysler," "dodge" and "jeep," among others, a classic example of how ICANN expects the new domain names to be used to promote brands.

Amazon, Apple, Google, HTC, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and Samsung were among the technology companies seeking to register their own names as gTLDs. Facebook, though, didn't bother.

Despite suggestions that there might be a battle for control of generic names such as "cola," neither Pepsi nor Coca-Cola applied for the name -- nor even to create gTLDs for their own brands.

Not all the applications were from companies. City and state governments have sought registration of city names including New York, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Melbourne and Sydney, while Rio de Janeiro's city authority just wants "Rio."

Applications were received from 60 countries, ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom said at a news conference in London. North America accounted for 911 applications, Europe 675, Asia-Pacific 303, Latin America 24 and Africa 17.

Most of the applications are for gTLDs written using the Latin alphabet, the only one that could be used for domain names for many years. However, 116 of the applications are for "internationalized" domain names (IDNs) written using non-Latin scripts, Beckstrom said. The system to handle IDNs was only recently standardized and deployed worldwide.

By allowing the creation of many new TLDs, ICANN has said it hopes to benefit consumers by creating more competition among registries. Critics, though, say the move is likely to create more confusion and cost as companies have to defend their trademarks in many more domains than before.

ICANN is doing its best to limit any confusion among the new gTLDs, said Beckstrom.

"None of them will enter the Internet until they have undergone a rigorous examination," he said.

In addition to examination by ICANN's experts to ensure that there is no possible confusion among gTLDs, and that the applicants are fit to run a registry, the applications must also submit to comments from the public and challenges based on trademark infringement or on public morality grounds.

Some of the applications will be challenged because they are too popular, not unpopular: 213 names were requested by two or more applicants, with a total of 751 applications involved in such disputes, Beckstrom said. "Sucks," which was always bound to be a contentious name, is coveted by three applicants.

Priority in these disputes will be given to "community" applications, where the applicant claims to act on behalf of a wider community of interests. Some applications are obviously a good fit for this category, including business suffixes including "corp," "inc," "llc" and the German "gmbh," or generic terms such as "art," "bank," "hotel," "insurance," "radio" and "sport." However, the 84 community applications also include some from companies seeking to register their own names, including Audi, Bugatti, Merck, OVH (a French Web hosting company) and Leclerc, a supermarket chain. ICANN will be examining whether such applicants genuinely represent or serve communities of interest.

ICANN expects to post the results of its initial evaluations in December or January, Senior Vice President Kurt Pritz said at the London meeting.

If there is no community application to take priority, applicants competing for the same gTLD will be encouraged to resolve the matter amicably and, if that is not possible, the name will be put up for auction, Pritz said.

The application fee for each gTLD is US$185,000. ICANN has collected around $352 million, Beckstrom said. Most of that will be spent on processing the applications, he said. None of the money will enter ICANN's general operating funds, he said, but around $60,000 will be set aside from each application as a contingency fund.

"This is a serious technical operation," he said. "It's not the same as applying for a second-level domain."

The applications will be processed in four batches of around 500.

Processing of the first batch could be completed within nine months, said Beckstrom; the last batch may not enter service for two years.


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