INTRODUCTION

WHAT IS .INFO?

.INFO is a new internet domain name extension like .COM or .ORG.   Anyone can register a .INFO name.  Registration for .INFO names has begun.  The value of .INFO names is a source of debate.  Some people believe that only .COMs will ever have much value.  They say -- "The first thing someone will ask is... 'What is the .COM?'"  Others believe that the importance of information on the internet and the international appeal of .INFO will help it to catch on and that good .INFO names will have as much or more value than mediocre .COM names.

KEY PLAYERS

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the body that approved  proposals last year for new Top Level Domains (TLDs) including .INFO and .BIZ.   For history of this process, see "IANA Report on Establishment of the .BIZ and .INFO Top-Level-Domains (25 June 2001)" at http://www.iana.org.org/reports/biz-info-report-25jun01.htm.  A registrar is an organization that registers internet domain names for businesses and individuals for a price;  some registrars are accredited by ICANN. A registry is an organization whose proposal to create a new TLD was approved by ICANN. Afilias is the registry for the .INFO top level domain; Afilias is owned by a consortium of nineteen registrars*. Tucows will be handling much of the processing activities for Afilias.  Registrars must be ICANN-accredited (or submit their list through an ICANN-accredited registrar) and contract with Afilias to offer registration for .INFO names, but they do not have to be a member of Afilias.

*1st Domain.net; Corporate Domains;  Domain Bank;   DomainInfo AB;  DomainPeople; Domain Registration Services;  Enter-Price Multimedia AG (EPAG);  Internet Council of Registrars (CORE); interQ; NameSecure;  Netnames International;   Network Solutions; Registrar Operations; Polar Software Ltd d/b/a Signdomains.com; Procurement Services International;  Register.com; Schlund + Partner AG; SiteName; Speednames; and Tucows.

SUNRISE PERIOD FOR TRADEMARK HOLDERS

Trademark holders were given an opportunity to register their trademark names first to avoid people registering names that infringe on trademark holders.  The period of registration for trademark holders was called the "Sunrise Period."  Many businesses were concerned that additional top level domains such as .INFO would open up new opportunities for "cybersquatting" -- wherein someone who does not have a right to a trademarked name registers that name and tries to sell it to the rightful trademark holder.  The Sunrise Period was designed to address this concern and, in my opinion, is a good idea. It happened during the summer of 2001.  During the "Sunrise Period," only holders of trademarks (TMs) as of October 2, 2000 were supposed submit their registration requests for .INFO names which were the same as their trademarks, in accordance with the Sunrise Period policy and rules outlined by Afilias.

LAND RUSH PERIOD

After the Sunrise Period, there was a "LandRush Period"  in which the general public submited requests for .info names in a randomized list process.   Getting a request on the list for the LandRush Period was called "pre-registration". ICANN-accredited registrars submited lists of individual .INFO registration requests.  Requests were randomized within each registrar's list and  registrations occured in a "round robin" process -- in which each registrar has an equal (randomized?) chance of submitting a request in each round.   After the LandRush Period, registration went into a real time "first come, first serve" mode in October, 2001.

SUNRISE SQUATTERS

However,  Sunrise policies and rules were not enforced and people were allowed to register non-trademarked names during the Sunrise Period by submitting fraudulent trademark information ("Sunrise Squatters").  Even if challenged, Sunrise Squatters pulled the best names out of consideration long enough for them to be unavailable in time for the "Land Rush Period."  This means that people who played by the rules (paying fees to pre-register for a chance at non-trademarked names in the Land Rush Period) were defrauded by people who did not play by the rules (the Sunrise Squatters).

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