Marketers, brand managers and company owners are finalising their applications for one of the biggest shake-ups to the internet since its creation three decades ago.
From this Thursday, such professionals on behalf of a business, but not as an individual or a sole proprietorship, have until April 12th 2012 to register almost any word they like (including brands) as a domain name.
Available for $185,000 (£120,000) each, the offering of generic top-level domains – whether it is .nike, .prada or even .gay, will visibly expand the existing pool of 22 web address suffixes, such as .com.
It also spells potential change to the way people find information online and how businesses plan and structure their online presence, according to ICAAN, the global internet body behind the change.
“Time is short,” chief executive Rod Beckstrom said in a recent blog post. “If you have not done so, now is the time to get expert advice and get your marketing people engaged to take advantage of new opportunities.”
He added that even those brands and entrepreneurs who do not plan to apply for a generic TLD need to be vigilant, or at least be aware of the program’s built-in trademark protections.
“If you do not choose to apply,” Beckstrom said, “you should still pay attention to those who do, and use the protections built into the program to safeguard your brand or community.”
To this end, and once all the applied-for strings have been posted for public viewing, businesses will have the opportunity in May of this year to object to any which they feel would infringe their legal rights.
Ninety US-based industry associations have opposed the change, as have 40 leading corporations -including Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson, claiming that the introduction of generic TLDs will harm brand owners, confuse consumers and expose them to more internet fraud and cyber attacks.