Three new top level domains are about to hit the Net. The first commercial .biz site will appear in October, .info will start functioning on Sept., 19, and .name will appear in December. The move to make these TLD's--along with .aero, .coop, .museum, and .pro--top level domains, or Web extensions (as marketers call them) available to Internet marks the first time generic TLDs have been added to the Internet since the late 1980s when the domain name system became operational.
For casual Internet users, the seven new TLDs may require some time to get used to but will not drastically change their Internet experience. Browsing to a new .info site, for example, will be no different than browsing to a .com site.
For Internet enthusiasts and businesses the new TLDs offer a chance to claim a new piece of Internet real estate if they missed out on the .com .net or .org version of their desired domain name. However, the cost of the new domain names is not cheap, and users may still miss out on their domain name because of restrictions on who may register first in the so-called "sunrise periods" for each new TLD.
Sunrise periods are intended to minimize some of the confusion found in the current TLDs--arising from domain name registrations by domain name squatters and other registrants who register domain names similar to famous names by giving trademark holders the first opportunity to register domain names containing their trademarks.
For instance, the long-standing dispute between Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (www.nissandriven.com) and Nissan Computer Corporation (www.nissan.com) for ownership over the latter's domain name would not have occured under the sunrise period.
Under the sunrise period, the claims of both trademark holders, the claims of would be considered before the domain name is assigned to the party with prevailing intellectual property rights.
However, critics claim that this system favours the registrant with the most litigators, usually the larger coporate entity, since domain name disputes, even under the sunrise period, are costly to pursue.
"[Sunrise] is inherently inequitable, operationally impractical, internally inconsistent, and non-conforming within the tenets of trademark law," says Ellen Rony, author of the Domain Name Handbook. "The problems some trademark owners face by true misappropriation of their marks can be resolved through the courts, not by forcing a square peg into a round hole. Mere registration of a name does not provide evidence of cyberpiracy or bad faith."
Many owners of domains in one of the old TLDs have no plans to register domains under the new system because of the added costs and low visibility of the new TLDs.
In any case, the new TLDs are here to stay.
Perhaps of most interest to wandering scholars is the .name TLD. Many individuals will be able to get personalized domain names in the .name TLD in the form of firstname.lastname.name or lastname.firstname.name which points to a website, and an e-mail forwarding service is offered that will forward e-mail to firstname@
lastname.name to another address.
"Global Name Registry will allow everyone to create a .name digital identity with their own name. People around the world will be able to use their own name as a Web site address and e-mail identifier," according to Global Name Registry Limited, the registrar responsible for the .name rollout.
According to NuLevel Inc., the registrar spearheading the .biz TLD, ".biz is the world's first Internet-based environment dedicated exclusively to the business community." Currently, the .biz TLD is restricted to businesses partaking in the exchange of goods and services in a commercial setting.
The .info TLD is intended to house domain names purveying information. That objective is deliberately broad since like .com, .info is an open TLD that. Registrations in the .info TLD will be unrestricted once the domain names claimed in the sunrise period are processed by Afilias Ltd. This TLD should be accessible on Sept. 19.