Originally posted on the Broadcast Law Blog.
The .co top level domain (TLD) is being opened to the general public, and one can envision a run on registrations similar to that experienced for .com. It is easy to see why the Colombia country code, formerly available in that country only, may become very popular in the US and elsewhere. For one thing, .co is the standard abbreviation for "company." It is also a very common misspelling of .com. It has been estimated that google.co gets 15,000 hits per day by mistake. From April 26 until June 10, a window will open in which only registered trademark owners will be able to register their marks in the .co TLD. Beginning in July, however, .co will be opened to the general public. We suggest that any companies with registered marks protect those marks in the .co TLD in April, and those that do not should register their call signs, company names or nicknames as soon as possible in July. If someone else registers your call sign or company name in the .co TLD before you do, it could be very difficult and costly to recover it.
It is difficult to believe that the first .com domain name was registered just 25 years ago this week. By the end of 1985, only five .com domain names had been registered. Ten years later there were 120,000 .com domain names. Now, there are nearly 85 million registered .com domain names. Beginning sometime next year (2011), ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is expected to allow companies to buy their own TLDs (meaning that your company name could follow the "dot" in a URL), although the cost is expected to be close to $200,000 per TLD. However, Canon has already announced that it intends to apply for .canon, and it is expected that other large companies will follow suit.
In the meantime, do not let a cybersquatter register your company's name or call sign in the .co TLD before you do. Register your name, and also allow this process to remind you to file trademark applications for product or service names important to your business. Let us know if you have any questions about the domain name registration process.