Long Domain Names: Anarchy.com?

There's a new rush for domains, as more registrars offer the ability to register names up to 63 characters in length. And Saul Klein is in the thick of it.

Klein's registrations include NationalBasketballAssociation.com, InternationalBusinessMachines.com, MicrosoftInternetExplorer.com and Microsoft Corp.'s slogan wheredoyouwanttogotoday.com.

Klein has already received a "hostile" letter from IBM about the registrations and said he believes it's only a matter of time before Microsoft and the National Basketball Association discover them as well. But he said he doesn't plan to keep the names. Klein, who runs a Web hosting and domain-name registration company, InternetCrusade in San Diego, said he registered those names to make a point, not a profit.

"When we found out you could register extended names, it became apparent to us that there were a lot of missed opportunities," said Klein.

Until last fall, domain names were limited to 22 characters plus the top-level domains such as .com, .org or .net. This new ability to register long domain names opens up issues for companies with long corporate names and slogans.

"I think companies should aggressively register their slogans," said Jim Grady, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. "If the capability is there, they should take advantage of it, because somebody else will."

But so far, only a handful of registrars offer the means to register names up to 63 characters plus top-level domains. You can't register a long name yet with Herndon, Va.-based Network Solutions Inc. (NSI), which said it plans to offer the service in the "near term." Registrars offering this capability include Internet Domain Registrars in San Francisco, which started last month, and Register.com Inc. in New York, which began this month.

According to a spokeswoman at The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers in Marina del Ray, Calif., the Internet Engineering Task Force had a system for using 63-character names that was put in use. The development of the shared registry system that ended NSI's exclusive registration franchise allowed the use of longer names.

There are some technical problems with using long domain names. Older versions of some browsers may not support long names, and not all Web hosting companies can host them, said officials at registration companies.

People who register trademark names or slogans face legal peril. The Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organization this month ordered the domain name worldwrestlingfederation.com transferred to its trademark owners after someone registered it and offered to sell it back at significant profit.

Last year, the U.S. adopted a cybersquatting law to prevent trademark infringements.

Klein said he believes long domain names will be important when people use voice to communicate with PCs. That's why he registered isthereadoctorinthehouse.com.

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