Domain names get personal with '.name'

International

With the recent launch of the '.name' generic top-level domain (gTLD), individuals are now being offered the chance to register their own name as domain space. The '.name' extension is one of seven approved in November 2000 by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the others being '.biz', '.aero', '.coop', '.info', '.pro' and '.museum'.

The new gTLD is being promoted as the first exclusively for the individual, allowing someone to register a website such as 'john.smith.name', with an email address '[email protected]'. Until now, internet users with personal websites have tended to use '.org', which is commonly associated with non-profit organizations.

The London-based Global Name Registry (GNR) is operating the new domain. Advance registrations far exceeded all expectations, with over 60,000 domain and email products sold (roughly half of which came from the United States). GNR is also exploring expanding '.name' to mobile phones and other personal devices later this year.

With competing bids for common names received from around the world, the winners were randomly chosen by GNR. There is no appeal mechanism for people who miss out on having their name registered - the only rule is that it has to be a name by which they are known.

Trademarks and brands are, however, offered some protection against abuse. GNR is offering a defensive registration service, which enables trademark holders to block nationally-registered marks from being registered as domain names. Its 'NameWatch' service also monitors the registration of specified names and words.

Peter Brudenall, Simmons & Simmons, London

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