You know how to find a website on the Internet, but you may not know that the “.com” and “.net” “Generic Top Level Domains” or “gTLDs” are about to get a whole lot more company.  Everyone that does business on the Internet will have to start thinking about how to navigate this new era of top level domain expansion in the very near future, thanks to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the key internet governing body.

Recently there have been concerns by some companies that almost all the names in the existing TLD registries have been taken.  If you’re Joe’s Florist in Hamlet, North Carolina and were lucky enough to get the domain “JoesFlorist.com”, another business or person with that name can’t claim it – even if they’re in a different state or country. ICANN is the Internet’s governing body. Every website and email address on the Internet ends with one of a few TLDs, like .com, .net, .infor, .org, or .tv, or international domains like .co.uk for companies in the United Kingdom.

New gTLDs and let descriptive names and even brand names exist after or to the right of “the dot” in your web browser. The age of “.Canon” for cameras, “.Ford” for cars and “.NYC” for companies based in New York will be here shortly.

On Wednesday, ICANN will announce http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/about all of the new Top Level Domain applicants from around the world. There were over 1900 completed applications filed, each costing $185,000 and netting ICANN over $350 million in fees. Applications additionally required hundreds of pages of paperwork including both legal and technical information.

The requested names will be revealed at a press conference in London. But don’t worry. The Internet isn’t going to get hugely complicated after the middle of next week. Once the names are revealed there is a lengthy comment period when ICANN, trademark holders, agencies and other interested parties and will resolve situations where several applicants have applied for the same name. One can imagine multiple firms bidding on generic terms like “.store” or “.shop.”

Assuming no technical hurdles, the first batches of new gTLDs will go live in 2013.

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