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Expanding web-name universe worries business groups

Bob Moon Jan 6, 2012

Stacey Vanek Smith: Most companies do business on the Web using addresses that end in “dot.com.” Next week, the non-profit group that controls the Internet’s address system will start taking applications for new web extensions. The move is being touted as a way to spur innovation, but some big companies say it’s going to be bad for business.

Our senior business correspondent Bob Moon reports.

Bob Moon: When new domains have been created in the past, there’s been a rush to buy up marketable words and make a profit. Big companies worry that opening a virtually unlimited universe of names from .abc to .xyz could leave them vulnerable to cyber-squatters holding their brand names hostage.

Dan Jaffe: This is going to impose extraordinary costs as people defensively, basically, purchase their own name back.

Dan Jaffe speaks for the Association of National Advertisers. That group has been joined by such iconic names as GE, Coca-Cola and even the YMCA in trying to stop the move. Jaffe says consumers could be at risk, too, if they’re fooled into thinking they’re doing online business with a trusted name.

On the other hand, Jim Lewis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies says the cost of creating your own web extension should put off most cyber-criminals.

Jim Lewis: The first cost — get ready for sticker shock — is $185,000 to register.

And, thousands a year more to maintain it. Opponents of the new policy argue that will also make it too expensive for smaller businesses to protect their own names.

I’m Bob Moon for Marketplace.

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