WASHINGTON June 20, 2011 - The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved a plan on Monday to expand Internet domain names from the familiar .com and .net include customized suffixes like .google or .movies.
In a 13-2 vote the ICANN board of directors approved the plan after three years of discussions. The new naming system will allow companies to create their own generic name endings such as .car or .music. Currently there are 22 name endings; .com, .net, and .org are the most popular.
ICANN is the international non-profit corporation that manages the domain name system used to identify website addresses. ICANN maintains the international index that links domain names with their IP addresses where the sites are located.
"ICANN has opened the Internet's naming system to unleash the global human imagination. Today's decision respects the rights of groups to create new Top Level Domains in any language or script. We hope this allows the domain name system to better serve all of mankind," said Rod Beckstrom, President and Chief Executive Officer of ICANN.
Applications will be accepted for these new name endings starting in January 2012. Companies will be required to pay an $185,000 application fee along with an annual $250,000 maintenance fee. Additionally only “established public or private organizations” are eligible for these new domains.
The new names will not become live until the end of 2012.
In May, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet held hearings which scrutinized the expansion of domain name expansions and its possible effects on trademark holders' rights.