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ICANN warns against pre-registration of domain names

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, better known as ICANN, is warning against pre-registration of new top-level domains (TLDs). ICANN is accepting applications for operating or sponsoring new TLDs until 1st October but whatever domains it agrees to introduce will not likely become available until next year.

Some companies, such as Alternative Domains, Name.Space and Imagine Online Designs are taking pre-registrations for domain names for TLDs that have yet to be approved. For example, the anticipated .web TLD has built up over 20,000 pre-registrations since 1996.

Louse Touton, Vice President of ICANN, is reported as saying:

“People should be cautious with these pre-registration schemes. No new TLDs have been established and there are no guaranteed – or even preferred – TLDs… We’re concerned about companies that are charging for pre-registration. That seems like a pretty obnoxious practice”

When all the applications for operating or sponsoring new TLDs are received, ICANN will invite public comment until 15th October and then post selected comments on its web site. The ICANN Board will then vote on applications and on 20th November, ICANN will announce selected applicants to enter into negotiations, to be completed by the end of the year.

The uncertainty over pre-registration of names has not deterred some companies. Andersen Consulting, for example, has pre-registered andersen.consulting. Generic domains like law.firm have been registered with name.space. Two people have registered sex.web at two competing pre-registration sites and a third has filed an “intent to use” trademark application for the proposed domain name. Even if TLDs such as .web are introduced, there is no guarantee that the pre-registrations will be regarded as valid.

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