New domain names, such as .shop or .union, could be on the Internet by early next year.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICann) last week put in place a timetable that could see businesses adopting new top-level domains to rival the take-up of .com.
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While the move will be welcomed by grass-roots Net devotees, it is unlikely to gain favour with the holders of famous trademarks. Many fear an explosion in "cyberpiracy", where individuals register domain names with a view to selling them.
Joe Simms, lawyer for ICann said, "Tensions between domain names and trademarks has always been a problem. I'm sure that if you're a big company with your domain name sorted out, this is a big hassle."
ICann plans to accept applications for new domains from August until October.