The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has voted to allow individuals and companies to apply to create new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) using almost any word in any language. The move means that individuals and companies will be allowed to apply for the new gTLDs beginning Jan. 12, 2012. The first gTLDs are expected to be approved by the end of next year.
The plan to create several hundred new gTLDs could give brands an opportunity to take greater control over their online presence and send Web users more directly to certain parts of their sites. In addition, the creation of the new gTLDs could give smaller businesses the chance to use domain names that are no longer available with a .com extension.
However, there are concerns that trademark owners may have to worry about their brands being used to create new domains without their consent. ICANN expects to prevent trademark infringement by using a months-long approval process that will involve governments and other agencies. There also are concerns that someone could register a gTLD, such as .nazi, that could offend some people, says ICANN chairman Peter Dengate Thrush.
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