The .co domain, which was once the country domain name for Colombia, is being opened up to individuals and firms across the world.

Research carried out on behalf of .CO Internet S.A.S, the registry operators for .co top level domain name, revealed that 75 per cent of web users said they associated .co with 'company', 'corporation', or other commercial endeavours.

As a result, the internet hosting company Hostway is urging anyone interested to pre-register before .co domain names goes on general availability on July 20.

"For businesses this creates an opportunity as .co is globally recognisable and credible, in a very similar way to .com has been. In fact, terms such as 'company' and 'corporation' are widely associated with .co, making it a natural domain name for many businesses," said Thomas Herbert, product manager at Hostway.

"As ever when a new domain name comes out, companies need to carefully think about protecting their brand equity, otherwise they could find themselves falling foul to cybersquatters. Cybersquatting can cost brands thousands in lost sales, reputation and legal battles. They must ensure they get the right advice on how to effectively manage their domain portfolios to not only protect themselves but also to ensure that their web presence is optimised."

The pre-registration cost of a .co name is $39 (£25). Users can pre-register using Hostway's dedicated webpage.