The Internet's governing body expects to start roll out of new generic top-level domains (gTLD) by mid-2013. In an effort to resolve any trademark disputes, however, the group will open a trademark clearinghouse starting 26 March.
This Trademark Clearinghouse will allow companies and individuals to request protection for their trademarks, so someone unaffiliated with Facebook, for example, couldn't quietly snap up the rights to .facebook, according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
At this point, there are 22 gTLDs, including .com, .org, and .net. In June 2011, however, ICANN approved a plan that would allow people to apply for new gTLDs, like .itproportal, for example. ICANN started accepting gTLD applications via its TLD Application System (TAS) on 12 January, 2012, and after a glitch took the system offline for several days, the application process closed in May.
By June, ICANN released a list of 1,930 applications for gTLDs that included applications from top tech firms like Google, Samsung, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple. Since then, ICANN has been engaged in a lengthy review process, which is now coming to a close.
According to the AP, the Internet will likely adopt new add-ons in Chinese first and other foreign languages, before implementing single-bidder English suffixes, like .aetna, .cadillac, and .vegas.
The first gTLDs will probably make their debut in April of this year, AP said, and ICANN will then introduce new domain names at a rate of about 20 per week. Suffixes like .app, .music, and .tech will likely take longer to hit the web, however; about 231 domains were applied for by more than one organisation, leaving ICANN to sort out the details.
The full list of applied-for domains is available on newgtlds.icann.org.