In what may be viewed as one of the the most important domain name launches since the (dot)com, the Republic of Colombia has decided to open, without restriction, the registration of (dot)co, Colombia's Internet country code toplevel domain ("ccTLD"). The .co ccTLD may be important to trademark owners because: (1) "Co" is a commonly recognized abbreviation for both "company" and "corporation"; (2) many countries use .co in the third level of their ccTLD designation (e.g., the United Kingdom uses .co.uk); and (3) .co functions as a typo of .com.

In order to avoid the expense of enforcing trademark rights against cybersquatters, companies should consider applying early to purchase .co domain name registrations. The following describes the upcoming phases of the .co launch:

Global Sunrise B. Until June 10, 2010, owners of trademarks that were registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on or before July 30, 2008, may apply for the corresponding .co domain name. If multiple qualified parties seek to register the same domain name, the .co registry will hold an auction between the qualified parties.

Landrush. From June 21, 2010 to July 13, 2010, domain names of high commercial value may be registered at a premium price. Again, if multiple parties seek to register the same domain name, the .co registry will hold an auction between the qualified parties.

General Availability. Beginning July 20, 2010, the general public may register .co domain names on a first-come, first-served basis.

More information on the .co domain name extension can be found here.