updated 4/7/2005 10:04:49 PM ET 2005-04-08T02:04:49

A company has found a loophole for selling Internet names ending in ".pro" without the usual credentialing requirements, prompting complaints from the Internet's key oversight agency.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, created the ".pro" suffix in 2000 for professionals.

Lawyers, accountants, doctors and engineers in the United States, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom could get such names if they submitted proof of their professions. So a law firm called Smith Jones could get "smithjones.law.pro." It's known as a third-level domain name because it's the third from the right.

ICANN later allowed second-level names — such as "smithjones.pro" — as long as the individual or firm already has a third-level name.

But last month, EnCirca Inc. began offering second-level names without the third-level requirement and said any profession at all could get one. It also expanded the service beyond the four countries in which credentialing procedures had been established.

ICANN responded by suggesting the new service "violates the spirit of name restrictions."

In an e-mail from Argentina, where ICANN is meeting this week, EnCirca president Tom Barrett said his company plans to keep offering the service unless restrictions are set.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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