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'.Asia' web addresses fail to connect with firms

21 февраля 2008

The ".asia" internet domain being created to provide a new route to the world's largest internet community appears to have flopped, with only about 31,000 businesses registering for one of the new web properties.

About ten times as many businesses had signed up to register a ".eu" internet address at the same point in its creation, in 2006.

Experts are now giving warning that lacklustre demand for internet addresses with the ".asia" suffix risks giving criminals the opportunity to register bogus sites that could be used to dupe consumers.

From today, when the "landrush" phase of the creation of the .asia domain begins, anybody will be able to register a .asia address. Until now only brand owners have been allowed.

Jonathan Robinson, the chief operating officer of NetNames, a web registry, said: "As of now, there's far less protection for companies' trademarks and it's open season on the .asia domain name for cybersquatters, online speculators and competitors."

Any internet addresses with more than one application will be auctioned off to the highest bidder before the .asia internet domain goes live on March 26. The process marks a departure from the "first come, first served" method used for earlier domains.

The .asia domain is being created to give groups dealing in Asia an alternative to the high-profile ".com" web suffix and is designed to be a gateway to the world's largest online population.

Asia has more than 400 million internet users, according to estimates, compared with about 320 million in Europe and 230 million in North America.

The new domain, which was given the green light last year by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the United States-based body that governs the web, is aimed at an increasingly affluent online community that has resisted the West's web brands.

EBay, the world's largest online auction house, for example, has been crushed in China by Taobao, the domestic auction site owned by Alibaba, the company into which Yahoo! placed its struggling Chinese business two years ago to avoid going it alone on the mainland.

However, like other launches of new domains — such as the launch of .eu last year — the .asia plans have been overshadowed by concerns that con-artists will register trademarks to lure in unsuspecting online consumers or that speculators will snap up addresses to sell on to trademark-owners.

Critics have suggested that companies will stick with their existing country domains — such as .cn for China — and are being forced to register .asia names only to prevent criminals from doing so first.

In the process for the allocation of the European .eu domain names, several companies lost their claims to legitimate competitors. Land Rover was beaten to discovery.eu by the American Discovery Channel.

Ralph Lauren and Nestlé lost out to Volkswagen on the polo.eu domain name.

However, generic .asia addresses are likely to be the most sought after.

Источник: Times Online

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