Lots of .biz-ness for Icann

The group that will decide on new top-level domains for the Web received 44 different applications this week. Most popular request? .biz, followed by .kids

Some want vengeance. A lot want .sex. Even more want to make it their .biz-ness.

Nearly four dozen groups ponied up $50,000 apiece this week for the rights to the new top-level domains (TLDs) that the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) will create by the end of the year.

The winners could end up becoming as big a Web powerhouse as Network Solutions, which has a government-sanctioned monopoly to be both the register and registrar of the TLDs .com, .net and .org.

Icann received 44 applications this week from groups hoping to strike the same gold as Network Solutions. The group should decide by year's end on what TLDs it will create and what groups get to administer them. It will be the first-ever Icann-sanctioned expansion of the Web.

The most popular TLD by far was .biz. Five different applications requested it, including Abacus America, a San Diego-based group.

As with about a third of the applications, Abacus requested five different TLDs, including .xxx and .cool.

"We'll take what we get," said Abacus chief executive Ivan Vachovsky.

Four groups applied for .kids, which if approved will likely be a kids-only spot on the Web.

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions in Brussels, Belgium, is sticking with the ".union".

The application came from a group of more than 20 trade union organisations, including the AFL-CIO and unions in Australia, South Africa, Japan, German and the UK.

A single application for .web came from a consortium of 19 domain name registrars, which submitted an application under the name Affilias. Network Solutions is part of the group. Other registrars are from Europe, the Middle East and Asia, said Affilias founder John Kane.

"We probably have the greatest global presence of any company in this bid process," he said.

The most TLDs, more than 100, were requested by domain name registrar Name Space. Founder Paul Garrin said the TLDs were the same ones that Name Space presented to Network Solutions in 1997 for recognition but were refused.

The company ended up taking Network Solutions to court, but a New York appellate court said Network Solutions has immunity from any prosecution because it was given the administrative role of .com, .net and .org. Name Space continued registering domain names, however.

"We owe it to our customers to try," Garrin said.

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