As many as 100 Indian corporate entities are expected to join the global race to own Internet domain names with their own brand extensions. This has been made possible because the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the global agency that manages Internet-related tasks, has started accepting applications to manage new top-level domains — names that appear at the end of website addresses, such as .com and .org.

So, soon you will have web site addresses that end with extensions such as .tata , .reliance, .icici or even such generic names as .bank, .shopping or .food. ICANN has thrown open the window for receiving applications for four months, from January 12 to April 12.

“There is a lot of interest among Indian corporates as this is an opportunity for them to push their brand-name on the World Wide Web. I expect at least 100 applications from Indian entities over the next four months, for which we have created an entire solution to help the applicant companies,” said Mr Jasjit Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, Net4India.

Currently ICANN allows domain names only in 23 categories such as .edu, .org or .in but now the floodgates have been opened. “I think financial institutions like banks will be the first movers. This gives them an opportunity to secure their networks against fake web sites and phishing,” says Mr Sandeep Ramchandani, Director, Strategic Partnerships, Directi, a Mumbai-based domain-name registrar.

Apart from brands, generic names representing a community such as .bank, .news and .shopping are also up for grabs.

But to get this extension the applicant entity will have to make a detailed presentation to ICANN on what it plans to do with the domain. Even individuals can apply for an extension such as .kapoor or .patel, but at an upfront fee of $1,85,000 and an annual charge of $25,000, this is an expensive proposition.

While in other countries domains with names of cities and towns such as .vegas and .newyork are allowed, Indian regulations do not permit use of geographies on web site addresses. “You need Government approval if you want to create a web site with geographical names. There are also restrictions on using names of constitutional authorities and those which have religious connotations,” said Mr Amitabh Singhal, Director, Telxess Consulting Services Pvt Ltd.

(This article was published on January 11, 2012)
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