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Uniregistry doing private new gTLD auctions? Company deals with Donuts on five strings

Kevin Murphy, February 21, 2014, 19:21:39 (UTC), Domain Registries

Uniregistry and Donuts have settled at least five new gTLD contention sets this week, raising the question of whether Uniregistry has reversed its objection to private auctions.

I think it has.

In five of the six head-to-head contention sets between the two companies, Donuts has won the rights to .furniture, .auction and .gratis, and Uniregistry has won .audio and .juegos.

The losing company has already withdrawn their applications in all five cases.

I gather that a deal was made, but Uniregistry won’t say whether it was via a private auction or not and I’ve not yet had a reply to a request for comment from Donuts.

The withdrawals come the same week as Applicant Auction was scheduled to conduct its latest private auction for new gTLD contention sets. The auction was slated for February 18.

But Uniregistry, which has previously spoken out against the private auction concept — saying it raises antitrust concerns — declined to confirm or deny whether these five contests were resolved by auction.

“We’re grateful to have found a way through the impasse and resolved the contention,” was all Uniregistry CEO Frank Schilling would say.

Applicant Auction’s project director Sheel Mohnot confirmed that a new gTLD auction took place this week but said he could not disclose the participants or the strings.

To the best of my knowledge, that’s a new line — the auctioneer has always kept quiet about sales prices in the past, but has always revealed which companies were involved.

So has Uniregistry changed its mind about the legality of private new gTLD auctions? My guess is: “Yes.”

The only remaining string where the two companies are competing in a two-horse race is .shopping, according to the DI PRO database, but that’s subject to some weird string similarity nonsense and probably not suitable for a private auction yet.

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