Almost half of the brands that responded to a survey by internet registry service Afilias said that they plan to apply for a ‘dot brand’ domain name.

This will see companies bid for ownership of an own-brand extension such as .pepsi, .apple or .dell.

The study shows high awareness of the new generic top-level domain (gTLD) programme from The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – which will choose which of the 500 applications get accepted.

But a lack of detailed knowledge around the application process means that companies may miss the opportunity to own their own name – something that may not arise for up to another decade. 

Conducted by Vanson Bourne, Afilias’ survey found that 82% of 200 consumer-facing businesses with 3,000-10,000+ employees are aware of the opportunity around dot brand domains.

54% of those aware intend to apply, a total of 44% of all companies surveyed, while a further 40% of those aware are still considering what to do.

71% of those polled said that they believe dot brand domains are an important trend to watch, with 56% saying it was a ‘top strategic priority’ and 38% admitting that it was something they ought to do.

ICANN is now accepting applications, but will close this window on April 12. If a company does want to bid, it must have voiced interest in doing so by March 26th. 

The new domains are likely to go live in 2013, so it could be that we see a number of new branded URLs springing up.

However, it’s unlikely that we’ll see companies abandon .com addresses any time soon, since they’re so well-known and well-used by consumers.

The expense and complexion involved in applying also means that dot brand will only really apply to larger businesses for now.

While its unclear how this new service will be integrated into branding efforts – it could simply prove to be a trademark and copyright-induced nightmare.