As of April 26, 2010, the .CO domain name extension was made available for registration by trademark owners. Although initially geared to registration in Colombia, this top-level domain – also a designation for “company” – is now valid anywhere in the world.

The .CO designation is expected to be a popular one. As a recent report in the trade media1 put it:

“Expected to be the biggest domain name launch since the .COM launch in the 1990s, .CO domains … are the perfect two letter option for businesses and individuals unable to find their perfect name in the increasingly depleted .COM domain name inventory. Universally recognized as an abbreviation for company, commerce, and community, the new .CO domain gives companies concise, creative options for branding their Internet real estate.”

The account quotes Domain.com’s marketing manager saying, “Because .CO is a memorable and short extension, we’ll see a rush of companies launching or re-launching their brands around their .CO name.”

Whether this turns out to be the case remains to be seen.

Additional information about the .CO domain – and its multi-phase launch plan, including this initial, “Global Sunrise” stage, which ends on June 10, 2010 – is available at offeror’s website at: http://www.cointernet.co/domain/launch/global-sunrise. The current phase is for trademark holders with exact-match domain names registered prior to July 30, 2008.

The “Landrush” stage, from June 21–July 13, 2010, will be open for those interested in registering a domain name of high commercial value, and any interest in matching domains will go to auction. During the “General Availability” stage that begins on July 20, 2010, .CO domains will become available worldwide via participating registrars.

Information about the opportunity to become a brand marketer for the .CO domain is available at: http://www.cointernet.co/domain/become-co-founder.

Companies that wish to consider whether they or any of their subsidiaries or operating units might explore this new domain opportunity can consult Holland & Knight for guidance.