New York — The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the non-profit organization that regulates Internet domain names throughout the world, approved changes Monday that will allow companies and individuals to register nearly unlimited new domain names and new generic top-level domains (gTLDs).

Starting Jan. 12, 2012, groups can petition to register domain names with suffixes other than the traditional “.com”, “.net” or “.biz” for up to 90 days.  The fee to petition for a new gTLD is $185,000.

“This is the start of a whole new phase for the Internet,” said Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of ICANN’s board of directors. “Unless there is a good reason to restrain it, innovation should be allowed to run free.”

ICANN’s decision is based on allowing corporations to “better take control of their brands,” said Theo Hnarakis, chief executive of Melbourne IT. “For example, .apple or .ipad would take customers right to those products.”

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