Companies bracing for new internet name costs

Companies are facing rising costs in protecting their online trademarks after a big shake-up in the internet address system was voted through this week.

From January companies and community groups can apply for their own customised internet names, such as .apple or .hitachi, rather than being limited to using existing suffixes such as .com and .net.

Costs for creating one of these new top level domain names are estimated to be about $500,000, including a $185,000 application fee.

The decision by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) is the biggest change of the internet naming system since the creation of the .com suffix 26 years ago.

Icann argues that the change will give companies and communities more freedom to create online identities for themselves.

Cities such as London and New York, for example, are looking at and .nyc.

Goodwill Zwelithini, the king of the Zulus, is interested in securing .zulu for his people.

However, many companies fear that the proliferation of internet addresses would result in more cybersquatting, where trademark names are bought up by opportunists.

Businesses are concerned about the increased costs they now face in either applying for one of the new top level domain names, or in fighting legal battles with cybersquatters.

Ownership of popular names will be decided by auction, in which case the costs could be sky-high.

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