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Oct. Launch Planned for '.asia' Domain

Internet addresses ending in ".asia" will be open to governments and trademark owners starting in October, with general registrations coming in 2008.

The initial round, which starts Oct. 9, is limited to governments desiring geographical names such as "china.asia" and those with trademarks applied before March 16, 2004, and actively in use. Registrations for other trademarks and for company names begin Nov. 13.

The Internet's key oversight agency for domain names, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, approved the ".asia" domain in October.

DotAsia Organization Ltd., an organization made up of groups that run domain names for China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and other countries, will operate ".asia," which it sought as a way to unify businesses and other users in the Asia-Pacific region.

The organization has said it plans to restrict registrations to those in the region, which includes Australia.

Applications for the older, active trademarks will close on Oct. 30, and all other applications in the so-called "sunrise" period will be accepted until Jan. 15. General registrations will come after that, though DotAsia did not specify when.

To discourage automated tools aimed at flooding the system on opening day, DotAsia will scrap the first-come, first-served model during the early registration period. Rather, all applications in a given round will be treated equally, with an auction held when two or more qualified applicants seek the same name.

DotAsia did not say when winning applications could start using the names.

Fees are likely to vary depending on which registration company an applicant chooses to process the name on DotAsia's behalf.

The ".asia" name joins ".eu" for the European Union and ".cat" for the Catalan language as regional domains, and there have been calls for additional geographic names like ".berlin," ".nyc" and ".paris." Normally domain names are assigned globally, such as ".com" for commercial sites, or for a specific country or territory, like as ".fr" for France."

Demand for the new names has generally been low, compared with old-timers like ".com," but many foreign businesses consider ".com" primarily a U.S. domain, and latecomers to the Internet have found the best names already taken.

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