A domain name is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority, or control on the Internet. Domain names are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System (DNS). Any name registered in the DNS is a domain name and can be registered by any individual, group or organisation via an ICANN-authorized domain name registrar.
Domain names are used in various networking contexts and application-specific naming and addressing purposes. In general, a domain name represents an Internet Protocol (IP) resource, such as a personal computer used to access the Internet, a server computer hosting a web site, or the web site itself or any other service communicated via the Internet.
Domain names serve as humanly memorable names for Internet participants, like computers, networks, and services. A domain name represents an Internet Protocol (IP) resource. Individual Internet host computers use domain names as host identifiers, or host names. Host names are the leaf labels in the domain name system usually without further subordinate domain name space. Host names appear as a component in Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) for Internet resources such as web sites (e.g., en.wikipedia.org).
An important function of domain names is to provide easily recognizable and memorizable names to numerically addressed Internet resources. This abstraction allows any resource to be moved to a different physical location in the address topology of the network, globally or locally in an intranet. Such a move usually requires changing the IP address of a resource and the corresponding translation of this IP address to and from its domain name. Domain names are used to establish a unique identity. Organizations can choose a domain name that corresponds to their name, helping Internet users to reach them easily. For instance IBM's web site is at ibm.com, and GNU's is at gnu.org.
Generic domain names increase popularity. A generic domain name may sometimes define an entire category of business that a company is involved in, rather than being the name of the company. Some examples of generic names include books.com, music.com, travel.com and art.com. Companies have created successful brands based on a generic name, and such generic domain names tend to be very valuable. Domain names are often referred to simply as domains and domain name registrants are frequently referred to as domain owners, although domain name registration with a registrar does not confer any legal ownership of the domain name, only an exclusive right of use.
When deciding on which domain name you wish to register, you will need to consider three areas:
- The choice of Top Level Domain – such as .uk
- The choice of Second Level Domain - such as .co.uk, .plc.uk or .me.uk
- The name itself - such asbbc.co.uk
Having decided on your preferred domain name, you’ll need to check whether it is available or whether it has been registered already by someone else. This is done by using the WHOIS service, an online search facility that provides details of domain name registrations. Many registrars also provide a WHOIS service.
The Terms and Conditions of domain name registration require you to declare that your registration does not infringe the rights of others, (such as their trademark rights for example). If a third party thinks that your domain registration takes unfair advantage of their rights they can take the dispute to our Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) or to the English courts.
Not all rights are linked to trademarks or the recognised names of individuals or organisations. For example, in preparation for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, the Government introduced new rights and powers to help the organisers of the Games protect their sponsors’ investments and the reputation of the Games. These rights apply to various uses of words and symbols with links to the 2012 Games, including .uk domain names.