Cheryl Trzcinski had a serious poaching problem. Trzcinski, a partner at the Original Mattress Factory in Cleveland, learned late last year that a North Carolina rival of her four-year-old Web site, originalmattress.com, was operating a site called "originalmattressco.com"--and developing a new one called "originalmatress.com."
It took four months and $10,000 in legal fees, but in April an arbitrator ruled that the disputed names had been registered to mislead customers of Trzcinski's 75-person company.
That doesn't mean Trzcinski's problems are over. Millions of new Internet addresses are becoming available, as seven new suffixes are added to the original trio of .com, .net, and .org.
The first two--.info, for general use, and .biz, for businesses--are accepting registration requests and become operational this fall. For business owners, it's a good time to think about both grabbing the domain of their dreams--and defending names they already have.
ON THE OFFENSIVE. The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names & Numbers, which administers Web addresses, is allowing businesses to pre-register selections in the .info domain before opening it to the general public on Aug. 27. It costs about $35 a name at any accredited domain-name registrar.
In the .biz domain, businesses can file an intellectual property claim to a certain Web address without having to actually register the name or pay annual fees. You can do it through Neulevel Inc. (www.neulevel.com), the company that will be administering the .biz database, for a one-time fee of $90. The deadline is Aug. 6.
In both .info and .biz, if more than one applicant is found to have a legitimate right to a particular address, the winner will be selected randomly.
Unlike Trzcinski, Lonnie Radford, director of online services at Invision Advertising in Dallas, is on the offensive. In March, 2000, the 30-person company settled for "invisionadvertising.com" when the pithier "invision.com" was already taken by a Commack (N.Y.) Web developer. So Radford has applied for www.invision.biz. "It makes a lot of sense," he says. "But what happens if they add 27 new domains?" As long as the Internet keeps growing, the domain name game may never end.
By Elizabeth Wasserman