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Friday, 25 May, 2001, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
Prepare to do .bizness
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Business is getting its own domain
By BBC News Online technology correspondent Mark Ward

Soon you will be able to surf to websites bearing the .info and .biz suffixes.

At long last new net domain names are mere months away from going live.

The .info addresses could be in use by August at the earliest, and .biz domains should follow in October.

But the .biz domains could prompt another round of world wide wrangling as the organisation behind the new net name backs out of being an arbitrator for any disputes that arise.

New names and domains

In September last year the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) began the process of selecting new generic top level domains for the net.

Icann received over 200 applications for new domains and eventually settled on just seven. Two of these, .info and .biz, will go live first.

This week Neulevel, the organisation behind the .biz domain, started accepting applications from trademark holders who believe they have a prior claim to a specific .biz name.

Before now disputes for other generic domains such as .com have arisen because the owner of a particular domain has nothing to do with the company or product trading under that name.

Because the .biz domain is restricted to businesses, Neulevel hopes to head off the worst cybersquatting or speculation attempts in which people buy up domains they can't use and then sell them at a profit to those that can.

Trademark trading

Neulevel is giving trademark owners until 9 July to claim the names they use while trading offline.

Neulevel is the registry for the .biz domain. It looks after the master list of who owns which .biz domain, and administers the network of servers that your computer will soon be consulting when you visit a .biz website.

The selling of the .biz domains is being handled by independent registrars appointed by Neulevel. Many of these registrars are offering brand name protection plans promising to corral the names important to those businesses.

But disputes could still arise because Neulevel said it had no plans to become an arbitrator between companies staking claims to the same domain. Companies applying for the same name will be asked to sort out between themselves who gets to use it.

After dealing with trademark owners Neulevel will open up the .biz registry for other applicants. If more than one company applies for a name Neulevel will randomly select who should get it.

Random selection

Neulevel hopes to that .biz names will be in use by October.

But the .info domain looks like it will be in use long before that. In July Afilias, the registry for the .info unrestricted domain, is running a so-called "sunrise" process whereby registered trademark owners can apply for a domain bearing that name.

Shortly after the "sunrise" period ends Afilias will then accept applications from the general public for .info domains. A random picking system will be used to assign domains where there is more than one application.

Afilias hopes the .info domains will go into use in August.

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See also:

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Brit to head net body
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Net names deal reached
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