By Brendan Sasso - 06/13/12 01:46 PM EDT
The nonprofit organization that manages the Web's address system unveiled thousands of applications for new Web domain names on Wednesday.
The move marks a massive expansion of the Internet's domain system, beyond traditional address endings, such as .com and .org.
The list unveiled Wednesday includes company names, such as .Apple, .Amazon, .Gap, .Ford, .Lexus, .Lego and .JPMorgan, as well as generic names, such as .movie, .music, .hotel, .love, .life, .auto, .news, .pizza and .beer.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) had expected to receive about 500 applications when it began accepting them earlier this year, but it received more than 1,900.
Groups had to pay $185,000 to apply for each new top-level domain.
The California-based nonprofit will evaluate the applications based on technical and legal criteria but could ultimately approve the vast majority of them.
The list includes 116 applications in international characters, such as Arabic, Mandarin or Hebrew. Groups from North America applied for 911 of the applications, while 675 came from Europe, 303 from Asia, 24 from Latin America and 17 from Africa.
ICANN says the expansion will lead to more choices and spur innovation on the Internet. But advertisers and some business groups warned the change would force companies to defensively buy up names related to their brands.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Jon Leibowitz has expressed concern that the expansion could confuse consumers and enable scammers.
Others have questioned what the nonprofit plans to do with the more than $350 million in application fees.
At an event in London to unveil the application list, ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom rejected the argument that the organization ignored criticism of its plan. He said ICANN included "extensive intellectual property protections," including a comment period for trademark owners to lodge complaints against applications.
He said the application fees were established to cover the cost to ICANN of managing the system and the group expects to only break even.
Beckstrom added that the public will decide which of the new domains will spawn popular websites.
"It's up to consumers to pick winners and losers," he said.