Land rush begins on .asia domains

Land rush begins on .asia domains

UK brands at risk, warns NetNames

The DotAsia Organisation has announced that .asia domain names are now open to all-comers having been restricted to applications from governments and organisations for several months.

Over 30,000 applications have been filed for .asia domain names since October, compared with around 330,000 at the same point in the launch of the .eu domain name in April 2006.

Domain name registrar NetNames warned that opening .asia to the general public means that businesses are now at risk of losing online trademarks to competitors or cyber-squatters.

UK businesses have lagged behind their US and German counterparts in the applications filed so far, at just over 2,000 compared with the 30,000 filed prior to the .eu land rush.

"The alarm bells should be ringing for any company which has yet to secure its trademarks in .asia," said Jonathan Robinson, chief operating officer at NetNames.

"As of today, there is far less protection for company trademarks and it is open season on the .asia domain name for cyber-squatters, online speculators and competitors."

Robinson added that demand for .asia has been understated, which means that many businesses are likely to miss out.

"As the first .asia sites go live we are sure to see a number of high-profile, costly disputes which could so easily have been avoided," he said.

Applications for the new domain were staggered over three time periods in an attempt to avoid the confusion and chaos surrounding the .eu domain launch.

The first period began on 9 October for government bodies and companies with registered trademarks.

The second period began on 13 November when registration opened to those companies with an official presence in Asia, regardless of trademarks.

Organisations which had already secured registered trademarks could then secure additional domain names related specifically to their line of business.

The third and final period has now begun with registrations open to the general public.

Any domain names with more than one application will be auctioned off to the highest bidder before .asia goes live on 26 March.