Lost in Domainland? Theres Help

Enterprises trying to navigate domain names are discovering that a little help from service providers can send them in the right direction.

Enterprises trying to navigate domain names are discovering that a little help from service providers can send them in the right direction.

Assistance is coming from more and more registrars that once simply served as the middlemen in registering a Web address. Now they are designing services to help corporations do everything from consolidate and manage their domain name portfolios to acquire new names and track registrations by other companies that may be uncomfortably similar to their brands and trademarks.

These registrars include AllDomains.com Inc., a division of Hostcentric Inc., and VeriSign Inc., along with corporate services specialists such as Corporation Service Co.

Others, such as NetBenefit plc. subsidiary NetNames International Ltd. and 1GlobalPlace Inc., are offering expertise in international issues, helping companies determine their domain name strategies for the 243 country-code domains and helping them meet the wide-ranging requirements of country-code operators.

At the same time, other niche service providers have sprung up. SnapNames.com Inc. specializes in protecting domain names by informing companies of any changes in registration and grabbing sought-after names as their registrations expire.

Trademark and copyright specialists such as Thomson & Thomson, a subsidiary of The Thomson Corp., have added tools that allow enterprises to search and track trademarks within domain names.

Finding help from registrars and service providers has become critical for corporations as they build ever-increasing portfolios of domain names and try to track or register names in domains beyond .com, said Ted Chamberlin, an analyst at Gartner Inc., in Stamford, Conn.

"Large enterprises can have 200 to 500 domain names, and they need services to help them," Chamberlin said.

Houston-based Compaq Computer Corp., for example, four months ago started consolidating its domain name portfolio with registrar AllDomains.com, of Pleasant Hill, Calif., said Robert Folk, manager for editorial and content operations in Compaqs e-business global solutions group. Compaq also is planning to use AllDomains. coms new service, launched last month, called D-Track, which allows companies to view all their registrations, upcoming renewals and the progress of new registrations through a Web interface.

Most recently, registrars have turned their attention to helping companies register for names in the new top-level domains. VeriSign, for example, has launched a service for .biz where, for $195, the Mountain View, Calif., company will file an intellectual property claim for a trademark and then file 10 duplicate registrations for a given name to increase the odds that customers will get the name they want.