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Starting next year, retailers and other organizations will be able to apply for new top-level web domains related to their line of business, such as .camera, .Nike or .hotel.
Get ready for a new way for retailers to use the Internet to communicate their brands to consumers.
ICANN, the organization that oversees Internet addresses, will allow companies and organizations to apply next year for new top-level domains in addition to the 22 domains already in existence, such as .com, .gov, .org and .net. Manufacturers and retailers could create domains based on categories or their own names, such as .camera and .Nike.
Apple Inc., which today has a subdomain of Apple.com/iPhone, could make that iPhone.Apple. Canon could offer a customer TomSmith.Canon where Tom could share photos.
ICANN could approve new domain names as early as November 2012, and the new domains are likely to start appearing early in 2013.
The cost to apply is $185,000, but launching a domain that would just be used by a single company, such as .Walmart, is likely to be at least $350,000, estimates David Weslow, an intellectual property lawyer in the law firm of Wiley Rein. The cost would be greater, he says, for a category name such as .camera or .NYC that the domain owner would lease to others for subdomains such as Canon.camera.
The new system will also open up new web addresses for smaller players. For instance, a hotel called Seaside that was unable to acquire the domain Seaside.com, might be able to nab Seaside.hotel.