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Saturday, August 11, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Public fears drought of good names for domains

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — The general public won't be able to get Internet domain names ending in ".info" until next month, but already 25,000 names have been taken by businesses getting first dibs.

Individuals and organizations say they're being shut out from the new names because many of the good ones won't be left by the time registration is opened to them. And while consumers may challenge companies for a name, critics say the system is stacked against them.

Businesses holding trademarks have been able to claim ".info" names since July 25, well ahead of the Sept. 12 start for general registration. Names are scheduled to become active Sept. 19.

Trademark holders also receive special preference for three other domain names — ".biz," ".pro" and ".name." The remaining three — ".coop," ".museum" and ".aero" — won't be available to the general public at all.

The seven names were approved last year to relieve overcrowding in the field of names ending in ".com."

While the days of a domain name like business.com being sold for $7.5 million appear to be over, many still fetch much more than the initial registration price, which is typically less than $30 a year.

The registrant of business.info, identified as a company specializing in domain names for high-speed Internet, even entered in the contact name field, "This domain is for sale."

Afilias Ltd., the company running ".info," will let trademark holders register names until Aug. 27. After that, individuals, groups and other companies can challenge the validity of any claimed trademarks through arbiters at the World Intellectual Property Organization.

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