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First Donuts new gTLD sunrise periods looking tiny

Kevin Murphy, January 31, 2014, 04:39:05 (UTC), Domain Registries

It’s possible that fewer than 1,200 domain names were registered in Donuts’ first seven new gTLD sunrise periods, judging by the latest zone file data.

According to Donuts zone files dated January 31, just 1,164 proper domain names currently exist in .clothing, .bike, .guru, .ventures, .holdings, .singles and .plumbing.

By TLD, the names break down like this:

.clothing — 560
.holdings — 166
.bike — 146
.ventures — 125
.guru — 117
.singles — 50
.plumbing — 44.

As far as I can tell, based on sample Whois lookups, all the names were registered during the gTLDs’ respective sunrise periods, not during the currently ongoing Early Access Program.

On the face of it, these look like very small sunrise periods indeed (consider .co, which had 11,000 registrations during its sunrise in 2011) but there are number of important caveats here.

First, this data might be wrong. There have been hiccups and glitches in registry zone file provision for weeks, and this might be one of those cases. I don’t think it is, but you never know.

Second, the data might be still incomplete. Names were to be allocated after the conclusion of Donuts end-date sunrise, which was January 24. Not all of these domains might have been allocated yet.

Third, these numbers don’t reflect “dark” domains. These are domain names that are not configured with name servers and therefore won’t show up in DNS zone files.

Fourth, and most importantly, domain names that have been blocked by trademark holders under Donuts’ parallel Domain Protected Marks List service do not show up in zone files.

DPML is the Donuts offering to trademark owners that drastically reduces the cost of blocking a mark — potentially to just a few dollars per domain per year — across all of the company’s gTLDs.

We already know from a bit of Whois detective work by World Trademark Review that the likes of Microsoft, Apple, Wal-Mart and Samsung blocked their brands across all seven of these TLDs.

DPML is a bit of a bargain if you’re dead-set on blocking your brand in as many TLDs as possible, and it’s possible — maybe even likely — that the number of DPML subscriptions outstripped actual sunrise registrations.

It’s a given that most valuable brands are more interested in preventing misuse than they are in participating in the new gTLD expansions — Microsoft has no use for microsoft.plumbing.

Judging by the zone files, domains registered during sunrise are largely appropriate to the gTLD — .clothing and .bike are full of clothing and biking brands, with very little crossover between the two, for example.

But there are plenty of exceptions to that rule.

Some other stuff I noticed

I had a dig through the files and did a few Whois look-ups whenever I saw a name that piqued my interest.

There are no hugely obvious examples of widespread gaming to be seen but some arguably generic names did go to some domain industry folk who have inside knowledge of the new gTLD program.

Notably, several people associated with new gTLD applications managed by Beverly Hills IP lawyer Thomas Brackey of Freund & Brackey seem to have picked up nice-looking generic domains during sunrise.

Luxury Partners of .luxury managed to get its hands on domains including luxury.clothing, for example, while What Box?, which applied for six gTLDs, grabbed realestate.guru and wedding.guru.

That’s right, apparently there are trademarks on “real estate” and “wedding” somewhere out there, and domain registry What Box? was able to provide the required proof that it’s using them in commerce.

Brackey himself is listed as the registrant of cloud.guru and direct.[tld] across the seven gTLDs, among others.

George Minardos of .build applicant Minardos Group acquired build.guru during sunrise too.

I wonder if any sunrise names will be challenged under Donuts’ Sunrise Dispute Resolution Policy.

While .guru has only attracted 117 registered names so far, it does appear to be the one place notoriously domain-shy Apple decided to actually play, presumably due to the support “gurus” it employs in its stores — ipad.guru, mac.guru and iphone.guru all went to the company.

There’s a “religious” flavor to some of the registrations there too — scientology.guru and darshan.guru were both registered by their respective organizations.

Amazon appears to be the most sunrise-happy of all registrants, grabbing dozens of (probably) useless names including kindle.plumbing, prime.ventures and aws.bike.

Some porn publishers seem to have gone a bit crazy too, with names such as m4m.plumbing and cam4.clothing making an appearance.

I found a few domains on my trawl that appear to have empty Whois records — christ.holdings and ghost.bike to name two amusingly appropriate examples — which doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of sunrise.

So there are definitely some oddities out there, but so far it does not appear to me based on my first look that massive numbers of trademark owners have been held to ransom, nor does there appear to have been any wholesale gaming of the system.

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Comments (23)

  1. This is the feedback we are getting from our United Domains’ customers in the US and in Europe regarding new gTLDs (we are taking binding orders since Nov last year):

    1. New gTLDs are too expensive. Why pay more than for a .com/.eu/.de?

    2. Ordering new gTLDs is too confusing (e.g. Sunrise, TMCH, DPML, Early Access, Landrush, Auctions, Premium Pricing, Reserved Names, etc…). Why does every registry come up with new procedures and different rules? From the end-user perspective this doesn’t make any sense.

    Florian

  2. Jean Guillon says:

    Are Sunrises the target? 🙂

  3. Ernie says:

    Call it like it is: .FAIL

  4. Fight the trojan horses says:

    Without the beast they will be an epic fail
    Of course the beast will start to help soon, manipulating the ranking. The whole gTLDs program is their trojan horse.

    Unfortunately, many people already agree that search engines CAN NOT RUN gTLDs

  5. page howe says:

    so it may be that some “trademark” holders who got these have got the donuts package and will have these name sin all tlds.

    the number one benefit if you were a new tld fan was the best names at reg fee would be an opportunity for the next generation of internet users to have good names……….

    but if the system is gamed, and that perception is starting to develop than we have just added “spacejunk” to the dns.

    page howe

  6. Fight the generic tojan torses says:

    Rules for companies, entrpreneurs and all men and women wanting to remain free:

    1) BOYCOTT ALL generic TLDs run by THE BEAST

    2) BOYCOTT ALL generic TLDs run by companies ACTING IN THE SAME SECTOR of the gTLD they manage

    3) BOYCOTT ALL CLOSED generic TLDs

  7. Hi Kevin,

    Are the zone files published for public viewing? I’m curious as to what domains have been registered and would like to take a look at the zone files.

  8. Not-Com Tom says:

    So, maybe the brand protection extortion racket that everyone feared was unfounded.

  9. The sunrise numbers you cite are pretty accurate and are in-line with our expectations. Actuals are higher, for the reasons you note. For our TLDs, DPML is the most powerful and cost effective trademark protection. DPML sales are strong and are exceeding our expectations. With that said Donuts has, for many years, publicly explained why brand infringement in new TLDs will be much, much lower than the estimates issued by opponents of the new TLD program. Any registry whose business model is based on significant revenue from brand protectors should rethink their model.

    We don’t feel gamed by anyone in Sunrise. Anyone with an SMD can buy then. That’s the ICANN rule. The fact that some names were registered by the reputable and innovative What Box people only pleases us. Donuts’ TLDs typically have five price points for SLDs within that TLD, in both Sunrise and General Availability. The names bought in recent Sunrise were consistent with our pricing strategy — which is to be a wholesaler and to price in a way that allows our registrars, and their registrants, to be successful.

    Richard Tindal, Donuts

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      Thanks for the comments Richard.

      I wonder whether the fact that Donuts feels it was adequately compensated for “gamed” domains means they weren’t “gamed”. Sunrise is surely designed to help companies with legitimate brands to protect, rather than people who obtain a trademark purely in order to obtain a matching SMD file and domain name.

    • Nick says:

      The amount of reserved names is just insane. Compared to the reserved names of other companies. donuts has simply marked almost every possible name with search value as reserved. While any of those not reserved as premium.

      Why would anyone want to register rubbish names? Since that’s all that is left. At least other companies are not so stingy with their names. When I register tlds I don’t even bother searching donuts names anymore. Nothing there to buy really and they are too expensive for sure. I can assume with certainty that none of their available names will offer any search value to me. All my domains are elsewhere and I’m waiting for other epic names to come out by registrars who don’t mind letting go the rains a little.

      I think, like everyone else, I’d rather wait for something better than 100 monthly searches.

  10. “We don’t feel gamed by anyone in Sunrise. Anyone with an SMD can buy them. The fact that some names were registered by the reputable and innovative What Box people only pleases us”

    Interesting comments. So according to Donuts it is fine for WhatBox to register trademarks and claim domains but when our company (.MUSIC) uses a valid, bona-fide trademark in commerce for nearly half a decade we are accused of “gaming”? Some inconsistency perhaps?

    I sincerely wish Donuts all the best in all its TLDs. Any success is good for all new gTLDs. Despite all the contentions, we will be rooting for all Applicants to be a success since it benefits all of us collectively. It is shared value after all and we hope to contribute as well.

    Regards

  11. Kevin, Responding to your comment above. As you know, many years were spent defining the rules about who can, and who cannot, get a domain in Sunrise. As with anything trademark-related, this rule was subject to extraordinarily detailed review, debate and amendment. The resulting ‘in-use’ rule is in the Guidebook and the TMCH Requirements. I assume trademark owners relied on this rule when they purchased a TMCH entry with a view to making a Sunrise registration. I think you’re saying we should treat that rule as guidance only, and define our own rule about what constitutes legitimacy in a trademark. After hearing years of debate on this topic I know for sure we’re not qualified to decide the cut-off point between ‘legitimate’ and ‘not-legitimate’ marks. We’re going to follow the ICANN rules on this as we think its an incredibly bad idea for registries to become judges and juries on trademark rights.

    Richard

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      I’m not blaming Donuts for anything. I’m just observing that perhaps ICANN’s proof of use rule is a bit flimsy.

  12. Jim Brooker says:

    Can’t get an explanation from Apple why their servers do not permit email to (alias)@(domain).guru

    This affects apple.com plus .mac/.icloud users

    Seems odd that Apple won’t allow sending of email to .guru when AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, Fastmail are on board

    • Anonymous Commenter says:

      Because some UA developers have decided it’s worth their time to determine what is and isn’t a valid top level zone.

      Which pretty much breaks privately run intranets, and non-standard top level zones (such as those run by OpenNIC.)

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