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.biz Domain Begins Preregistrations

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The first of the new top level domains is open for business, sort of. Trademark holders can now officially lay claim to a .biz domain. But just to be confusing, registering a claim doesn't guarantee that you will get the domain name of your choice.

What's happening is that the company administering the new domains, NeuLevel, is now giving trademark holders the ability lodge "IP Claims" to domain names that may be based on their trademarks. You pay $90 per claim and have until July 9 to file, if you do it through NeuLevel.

Assuming you do this, the next step in the process is to actually file for your domain name. You can do that from July 9 through September 17. Then, if no other IP Claims and/or domain requests have been filed for the names you want, congratulations -- it's yours. You'll also have to pay an additional fee for the name, once it is granted to you. The price can vary by registrar, as described more below.

What if someone else has lodged an IP Claim to your name? On September 25, a winner will be randomly selected from all the claimants. However, the name will be placed on hold for 30 days, so that any challenges can be resolved through approved arbitrating committees.

Do you have to go the IP Claim route? Not at all. This is designed primarily so that trademark holders have some ability to get in first on the names they may have an intellectual property claim to. In contrast, let's say you want something like "shoes.biz," which has no trademark issues. You can skip the IP Claims process for these.

Instead, NeuLevel will begin accepting applications for these more ordinary domain names as of July 9. You can apply for the same name as often as you like, and doing so gives you more chances of obtaining it. That's because on September 25, if more than one person wants the same name, a random drawing will be conducted to award it. If you've applied more often, then you might be more likely to win.

Of course, if you are after a domain name that no one else wants, then even a single application could win it.

As mentioned earlier, you can file IP Claims now with NeuLevel. You may also be able to do this through one of NeuLevel's authorized registrars. They might also charge you more or less than the $90 that NeuLevel charges, so look around.

What if you don't want to file an ordinary claim? NeuLevel isn't yet accepting these. However, you may find some of its registrars are. If they are an authorized registrar, then this isn't a scam. Instead, they will just hold on to your application and send it off on July 9th. However, NeuLevel warns that these may have to be sent back to registrars, since there is additional information they may not be collecting.

Don't worry. Getting your application in early doesn't help, just like it won't hurt if it is sent back for more information. All that matters is that, in cases involving regular domain names, you apply by mid-September.

Given this, you might want to sit back and wait until after July 9th, when registration for regular domains goes live officially. But remember -- if you are going after a domain name and want to stake a trademark claim to it, you need to file an IP claim BEFORE July 9th.

How much are the names? That depends on the registry that you use.

"We charge our registrars $5.30 for them, but they sell to end users and can charge whatever they want," said Jeff Neuman, NeuLevels's director of policy and intellectual property.

For example, authorized registrar Dotster is currently charging $30 for two years of service, with a separate $5 "application" fee for each name you wish to apply for. Other registrars may have completely different pricing. Again, look around.

Finally, the new names are scheduled to go officially live on October 1. That means on or near that day, you should be able to type in the new .biz domains into your browser and reach web sites using them.

Now for the key question. Assuming you get one of the new domains, will you have a problem with search engines? Probably not. As these are ICANN-approved, most servers that resolve domain names should process them without trouble. FYI, Inktomi has already reported to me that they are ready for them. I'll let you know about other search engines, as I do my regular checking.

NeuLevel
http://www.neulevel.com

Information about .biz domains can be obtained from here. You can also file IP Claims and find a list of approved registrars.

Dotster
http://www.dotster.com/

Allows you to file as many "applications" as you'd like for a particular name. The idea is, the more applications that you file, the more chances you have of winning a popular name in the random drawing. Of course, for unpopular names where a drawing is unlikely, one application is probably fine. You also have to pay $30 for each domain name you actually obtain. Dotster is just one of many approved registrars for the new names. Other registrars may have deals you like better. They can all be found from the NeuLevel site.

Should Your Company Reserve a ".Biz" Domain? Here's What You Need to Know
B2BMarketingBiz.com, May 29, 2001
http://www.b2bmarketingbiz.com/sample.cfm?contentID=1692

Nice article covering the ins and outs of how the new system will be administered, with advice on whether you should worry about laying a claim early.

Can you get a new domain name?
News.com, May 21, 2001
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-5991783.html

The release of new top level domains doesn't necessarily mean that it will be easier to get the name you want -- and watch out for scams, authorities warn.

.biz, .info registrars schedule domain sales
Reuters, May 15, 2001
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-5932542.html

The .info top level domain has also had final approval and is set to go active in August.

ICANN's I Can't Attitude Alienating Internet Community
InternetNews.com, May 30, 2001
http://www.internetnews.com/wd-news/article/0,,10_775751,00.html

There's some complicated stuff here. The main point is that someone else already offers non-ICANN approved .biz domains, and it is unclear what will happen on some DNS servers when new approved .biz domain goes live.

Searching for Your Own Domain
SearchDay May 30, 2001
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/01/sd0530-domain.html

.com is hardly dead, but it is much harder to find the name you want. Fortunately, domain name search engines exist to let you locate existing domains that are about to go free.

ABCs And URLS
http://searchenginewatch.com/subscribers/more/abc.html

More advice about how search engines interact with domain names.


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