JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and Microsoft Corp.are applying for web suffixes including .jpmorgan, .walmart, and .microsoft under a program to expand the number of internet domain names beyond .com.
Other proposals include .lamborghini, .love and .book, according to a list published today by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the nonprofit group overseeing the expansion of web suffixes.
The list of 1,930 applications, which had been kept secret, provides a first look at potential rivals to .com and the level of company interest in the suffixes. Icann says the program may result in hundreds of new extensions to the right of the dot.
"It is our fundamental obligation to increase competition and consumer choice, and to foster innovation, and this program delivers on that ," Icann Chief Executive Officer Rod Beckstrom said at a news conference in London.
Icann, which operates under a U.S. Commerce Department contract, says the domain names will give companies and organizations new ways to structure their online operations and market their brands and products to consumers.
Critics including the Association of National Advertisers say many companies that have no interest in domain names face pressure to apply to prevent their branding from falling into the wrong hands. Each application cost $185,000.
Two or more applicants are applying for 230 domain names, according to Icann. Wal-Mart and Safeway Inc. are both vying for .grocery. Such cases could be resolved by auctions.
Icann, based in Marina del Rey, Calif., started accepting applications in January, with the process interrupted by a technical malfunction that prompted the group to close the online application system for more than five weeks.
Icann will allow trademark owners and others to file objections to the proposed domain names, and will begin evaluating applicants next month based on technical and other requirements, according to the group's website. The first approved domains may be ready early next year while others may take longer, according to Icann.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission in December said a proliferation of suffixes may create new opportunities for online fraud. Icann should introduce the expansion as a pilot program and reduce the number of domains created, the FTC said.
"What Icann is doing seems to us to have very little competitive benefit and a lot of cost to consumers in terms of easier ways for malefactors to engage in fraud," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a June 6 Bloomberg Government interview.
There are currently 21 generic top-level domains led by .com and 280 country-code domains, such as .uk for the United Kingdom. Icann has introduced new generic suffixes such as .jobs and .mobi in smaller rounds in previous years, with none of them achieving registrations comparable with the dominant .com.
~Bloomberg News ~