Domain name for Asia up for grabs

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The so-called landrush for the latest domain name suffix - .asia - has
DotAsia, the organisation overseeing the registration, is expecting
huge demand for the first domain name extension for the Asia Pacific

But some in the industry are concerned about the proliferation of
domain name suffixes in recent years.

While others think that the business of buying domain names has become
more about protecting brands than promoting them.


Work to create the .asia domain began in 2000 with the DotAsia
Organisation winning official approval to set up the domain in 2006.

A so-called sunrise period, where companies can reserve domains to
match their trademarks, has been ongoing since October.

Now the process has been opened up for anyone to register and the
first .asia domains will go live on the internet in March.

Thomas Herbert, a product manager from UK registry Hostway, believes
the nature of buying domain names has changed, largely due to the
lucrative businesses of cybersquatting.

"People are willing to pay big money for a domain and with domain name
reselling on the increase, it has become a matter of protecting your
trademark," he said.

As well as cybersquatting there can be legitimate battles over

For example, in the sunrise period for the .eu domain, there were some
95,000 conflicting claims for domains.

The domain was applied for by car maker Volkswagen,
fashion house Ralph Lauren and sweet manufacturer Nestle.

To limit squabbles and cybersquatting this time around, the DotAsia
Organisation, has put in place certain rules.

Companies must be already registered in the Asia/Pacific region to
qualify and if there are any conflicts of interest, the domain will be
auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Such restrictions are likely to increase as more domain names come
online, thinks Mr Herbert.

Leona Chen, spokeswoman for the DotAsia Organisation, anticipated
plenty of interest and hoped the suffix could have as significant an
impact in Asia as .com has globally.

"We are ready for something big. All of our people and systems are in
place and we look forward to the commencement of the .asia landrush,"
she said.

Too many?

UK domain name registry NetNames pointed out that the number of firms
registering interest is considerably lower than for the sell-off of
the eu domain in April 2006.

"Only 30,780 applications have been filed for .asia domain names so
far compared with 330,000 at the same point in the launch of the .eu
domain name," said Jonathan Robinson, chief operating officer of

He advised firms to get onboard quickly.

"Once it starts, there's far less protection for companies' trademarks
and its open season on the .asia domain name for cybersquatters,
online speculators and competitors," he said.

According to a report from Nominet, another UK registry, there is an
active market in buying, selling and storing domain names, with sales
regularly exceeding £100,000 and peak values reaching more than £1m.

While some of these resales are legitimate there was also a big market
for speculators, said Nominet chief executive Lesley Cowley.

She was concerned that a sudden leap in the number of domain names
could leave companies confused as to which ones they need to register

"The current process being developed by Icann (the Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) means there could be a
couple of hundred or even thousands of new suffixes to bid for by the
end of the year," she said.

The .asia domain name extends to some 70 countries, from the Middle
East to Australia. 60% of the world's population lives within the
Asia-Pacific region and there are 400 million internet users.

Other regional suffixes for Africa and Latin America are expected to


I wonder who will be the first to register  <G>

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