June 4, 2012, 3:30 PM

Google applies to acquire .Google, .YouTube and other domain names

ICANN says it has received applications for more than 1,900 domains.

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Google Inc. says it has applied for control of what would be new top-level domain names associated with the search engine. Google has revealed four of the domains it has applied for, but declines to reveal others or say how many it applied for in total. In a blog post Google chief Internet evangelist Vint Cerf wrote that the company had applied for .Google, .docs, .YouTube and .lol.

An organization can apply for a maximum of 50 domain names under a new process that could create many new web addresses.

A top-level domain is the term that follows the final period in a web address, such as .com, .org and .gov. There are now 21 top-level domains, and 250 country code domains such as .uk, .fr and .au. ICANN’s plan is to allow companies and other entities to acquire and operate many new top-level domains with a range of potential marketing benefits. A camera company could own the .camera domain, for example. A retailer could create its own domain, such as .Macys and create web addresses such as dresses.Macys and furniture.Macys.

The organization in charge of the application process, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, said last week it had received more than 1,900 applications for new generic top-level domains from organizations around the world during its application period, which closed May 30. 

Other organizations are also beginning to reveal the top-level domains they applied for. The Public Interest Registry, which manages the .org domain, says it applied for .ngo (non-governmental organization) and .ong, which Public Interest Registry says translates and truncates non-governmental organization in French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd., a consultancy that provides registry services for domain applicants, says it applied for 92 top-level domains on behalf of clients. Its list includes geographic domains, such as .london and .miami, sport-related domains, such as .rugby and .basketball, and general interest domains, such as .cooking, .fishing and .eco. It also helped clients apply for some domains that might be of interest to e-commerce businesses, such as .deals and .luxe. The company did not reveal which organizations applied for which domains.

ICANN says it will reveal the full list of applicants and top-level domains on June 13. After that, the public has 60 days to submit comments or seven months to file a formal objection to any domain under consideration.

The next stage of the domain process may be fraught with challenges, says Phil Lodico, managing partner of FairWinds Partners, a domain name strategy consulting firm. "From the announcements we’ve already seen, there will be definitely be battles over certain gTLDs, especially generic or category-defining terms,” he says. “There could be hundreds of generic top-level domains that were applied for by more than one entity. In some cases, the various parties competing for the same [domain] will be able to reach an agreement, but in other cases, we could see knock-down, drag-out fights, in which case the competing parties will be placed into an auction and the [domain] will go to the highest bidder.”

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