The .pro top level domain (TLD) could be live by the end of the year, but enterprises have been told that it is still too early to register.
RegistryPro has now signed the contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, under which it will operate the registry for .pro.
The new domain is the first professionally restricted TLD on the internet and will launch at the end of this year or early in 2003.
In the first instance it will be available to companies in the UK, Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
".pro is the first TLD specifically for professionals. It will initially be for the accountancy, medical and legal professions and is more of a security product," explained a RegistryPro spokesman.
Sloan Gaon, chief executive at RegistryPro, said: "Based on the growing recognition that professionals must conduct patient or client online communications securely, there has been tremendous interest in the .pro extension from the medical, legal and accounting communities."
The .pro TLD will offer high levels of privacy in communications because RegistryPro will require registrants to certify their professional credentials.
Each registrant will be issued with a digital certificate as a means of verifying their identity in an electronic exchange.
Digital certificates also enable other security measures such as encryption and digital signature services for the secure transmission of documents.
RegistryPro has yet to select the security system it will use, or to detail the process that registrants will have to go through to establish their eligibility for a .pro name.
It is currently working with professional bodies such as the Bar Council of England and the British Medical Society to establish the processes.
Trademark holders will be given the option to register an interest in the .pro domain space ahead of open applications under a process called the 'sunrise period'.
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