One and two-character '.biz' domain names released

On May 21 2009 the board of directors of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers approved a request by NeuStar, the registry responsible for the '.biz' domain name extension, for the release of all reserved one and two-character second-level '.biz' domain names.
NeuStar began its marketing programme for one and two-character '.biz' domain names on June 1 2009. Available characters include all 26 letters of the Roman alphabet and the numbers 0 to 9. There are therefore 36 possible one-character domain names and 1,296 possible two-character domain names, making a total of 1,332 domain names to be released. The deployment will be in three phases over a period of 12 to 18 months. 
The three phases are as follows:
  • requests for proposals (RFPs);
  • auctions; and
  • first-come, first-served.
The first phase will last for two months for both one and two-character domain names. The first phase for one-character domains started on June 1 2009; the process will begin for two-character domains on August 1 2009.
Potential registrants that are interested in the '.biz' extension can put forward their proposals explaining how they aim to use and promote their chosen domain name. However, NeuStar will not be obliged to pick an applicant from the RFP phase and could simply elect to move the domain to auction in the absence of a suitable proposal.
NeuStar will take into account:
  • the applicants' business and technical capabilities;
  • the applicants' expertise;
  • the applicants' business plan; and
  • the manner and purpose for which the proposed websites would operate.
According to NeuStar, successful applicants will:
  • commit to using the one or two-character '.biz' domain as their primary web address or for a specific marketing campaign;
  • demonstrate a financial commitment to promoting their web address resulting in increased awareness of '.biz';
  • meet or exceed commitments made by any competing applicants; and
  • meet minimum standards of decency and morality and be deemed by NeuStar to be a positive representative of '.biz'.
During the second phase, domains not allocated during the RFP phase will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. The process will begin on August 3 2009 for one-character domain names and October 30 2009 for two-character domain names. 
Any remaining domains will be registered on a first come, first served basis. The starting date for this third phase has not yet been set.
More and more registries are releasing one and two-character domain names because they are traditionally of most value, being short and easy to remember. NeuStar's release of one and two-character domain names follows hot on the heels of the release of '.mobi' one and two-character domain names at the beginning of this year. Interestingly, both registries favoured the initial RFP approach, rather than immediately selling the domain names to the highest bidder, on the basis that this is more likely to encourage appropriate and relevant content. Successful '.biz' candidates will also have to enter into a marketing agreement with NeuStar and will not be able to transfer the domain name during the term of that agreement. This should also encourage serious candidates - and not simply those seeking to sell on domain names at vastly inflated prices.  
David Taylor, Lovells LLP, Paris

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