RealTime IT News

VeriSign's New Symbols - A New Look For URLs

The latest gimmick to get company's to sign up for URL names, don't involve names at all.

Mountain View, Calif.-based VeriSign and Redwood City, Calif.-based RealNames launched an initiative back in June 2001 to bring international characters to the table when companies file for URLs.

For example, Sumitomo Bank in Japan can use Japanese characters for "Sumitomo" in between www and .com.

But the list of characters also includes symbols, which hasn't sparked much interest until now.

Pdom.com (Personal Domain Names), out of New Zealand, says the demand for symbols is on the upswing and could reach a fever pace even with the expansion of seven new Web extensions like .biz and .info.

"People have already listed thousands of symbols for sale on our Buy & Sell Web site ranging from $200 to $20,000, and it will only be a matter of time before some of these symbols will be snapped up by brand-savvy companies wishing to secure an Internet address based on a symbol," says Pdom.com CEO Robert Wiles.

Wiles says Pdom has the Internet's largest trading site for personal domain names and is the only domain-trading site that allows people to list the new symbols for sale.

For example, a patent attorney could establish an Internet address at registered trademark (symbol).net or copyright (symbol).org. Companies dealing in foreign currencies may be interested in website addresses based on the many currency symbols available including, the Franc (symbol).com, the Euro (symbol).org, the Yen (symbol).org, the Lira (symbol).com, the Peseta (symbol).com and even the Israeli Shekel (symbol).com.

If the company focuses on men or women the international symbol for men, (symbol).net and women, (symbol).net are listed for sale. In addition many other generic symbols such as a telephone, a Valentines heart and the four suits on a pack of cards have also been listed. And if your business model is saving souls the cross, (symbol).com is listed for sale.

How Do They Do That?

Consider a domain name with Chinese characters. The multilingual portion of the character reads something like "3b7vcv67." To complete the registration in the multilingual testbed, a two character extension, known as a prepend, and two hyphens ("-") are added by the registrar to flag the domain name as multilingual.

The prepend, which can change at any time based on evolving standards, is currently "bq." Thus the registration in this example goes into the testbed as "bq--3b7vcv67."

The representation is referred to as the domain name's RACE (Row-based ASCII Compatible Encoding) representation.

"When companies and brand gurus recognize that it is now possible to use a symbol as their Internet address we expect some of these symbols will be snapped up by companies keen to develop a product brand based on one of these symbols or secure a symbol which resembles their own brand logo, ad a few of the symbols are very similar to a few common brands," says Wiles.