Nominet will operate a staged release of the 2,831 domain names, beginning in December. Two sunrise periods will be conducted before the names go on general release to ensure that organisations that hold trade marks or other rights in particular names have the first chance to register them.
Names including aa.co.uk, ba.co.uk, be.co.uk, ip.co.uk, no.co.uk, or.co.uk and others will be available to registered rights holders on 1st December, Nominet said. That phase will close on 17th January 2011 and the unregistered rights phase will happen after that, then the open 'landrush' period.
If two organisations have equal rights to a name and both apply for it, it will be auctioned and given to the highest bidder, Nominet said.
“There can be many trade marks, but only one domain name. So we’re expecting these new domains will be hotly contested by individuals, companies and major brands," said Nominet's senior legal counsel Nick Wenban-Smith.
"Having the .uk short domain URL can enhance brand value and increase customer access to businesses and individuals via search engines and beyond. We’ve developed the process to be fair as possible and look forward to active participation from trade mark holders in the first stage of the process," he said.
"Until now these domains, which include single character domains (e.g. 1.co.uk, a.co.uk) and two letter domains (e.g. aa.co.uk), were ‘reserved’ - held back for technical and policy reasons – and as such could not be registered," said a Nominet statement. "Following a policy review and a public consultation, these domains are now being made available."
Nominet said that the proceeds from the auctions of any names with more than one registered applicant will go to The Nominet Trust, which it said was "an independently-run charity focussed on increasing access, safety and education on Internet issues".