RealTime IT News

Companies Move To Register .INFO Domains

With the Sunrise Period for trademark and service mark holders to register their marks in the new .INFO domain slated to end on Monday, Aug. 27, Afilias Thursday claimed that registrations to date mark .INFO as the first "truly global" domain.

Afilias is a consortium of registrars selected by the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to serve as the registry for .INFO. The Sunrise Period was initiated on July 25, 2001, in order to give trademark and service mark holders a chance to protect their marks before the registry is opened to the general public on Sept. 12, 2001.

That policy was instituted in an attempt to prevent the "land grab" mentality that befell the opening of the dotcom domain, in which speculators (now known by the less flattering cognomen "cybersquatter") bought domains featuring top brands and sold them to the brand holders for millions of dollars. While a multitude of lawsuits have been filed against cybersquatters over the years, a number of brand domains have not been reclaimed by brand holders. Microsoftword.com is not owned by Microsoft, and Palm does not own PalmV.com or Palm5.com. Whitehouse.com is currently a porn site.

This apparently has led many companies to act during the Sunrise Period. The consortium said Thursday that more than 60 percent of registrations made during the Sunrise Period have been filed outside of the U.S., and more than 80 percent of companies on Interbrand's list of the world's 100 most valuable brands have already registered a .INFO domain. Examples of companies and brands include Sony, MTV, Microsoft, Starbucks, Porsche, Budweiser, Mercedes, Coca Cola, Viacom, Clearchannel, USA Networks, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Merck, Johnson and Johnson and Bristol Myers Squibb. Some companies have even gone so far as to register their taglines, like wheresthebeef.info, nokiaconnectingpeople.info, fedexpriorityovernight.info and dell4me.info.

"In the legacy domains (.com, .net and .org), more than two thirds of names were registered by U.S. companies," said Roland LaPlante, vice president and chief marketing officer for Afilias. "The early results from .INFO registrations confirm our early research on the global appeal of .INFO, with 62 percent of registrations from registrants outside the United States. As the first truly global top level domain, .INFO will help fuel the growth of the Internet outside the U.S. and satisfy the demand for domain names that resonate internationally."

The U.S. accounted for only 39 percent of .INFO registrations. The top three markets outside the U.S. were Germany (which accounted for 20 percent of registrations), Switzerland (7 percent) and the U.K. (6 percent). On the regional level, the U.S. and Canada accounted for 40 percent of registrations, and Europe accounted for 52 percent. Another 5 percent came from Asia, 3 percent from Latin America and 1 percent from Australia.

"We are very encouraged with the number of global brands that have already registered a .INFO domain name," LaPlante said. "Tens of thousands of these names have been registered so far and with the Sunrise Period ending on August 27, there are only a few days left for the remaining trademark holders to protect their marks. However, there are still millions of great names available for the general public to register beginning on Sept. 12, 2001."