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Registrant complains to ICANN over Uniregistry’s premium names

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2014, 10:16:31 (UTC), Domain Registries

A would-be new gTLD registrant has appealed to ICANN over the domain name moviestar.photo, which she was unable to register because Uniregistry had reserved it as a premium name.

Danielle Watson filed a formal Request for Reconsideration (pdf) with ICANN last week, in the mistaken belief that ICANN had placed the domain she wanted on one of its block-lists.

She described her predicament thus:

a. Website Name Registration: I purchased one of the new gTLD domain names ending in .photo from 101domain.com on April 2, 2014. Moviestar.photo

b. I received an email on April 14, 2014 stating that ICANN kept this name from being registered in my name, and I would receive a refund in which I did.

c. I cannot understand why this name is being withheld, and being put into your reserve list.

d. I take very old Movie Stars photos and colorize them and put old fashioned frames around them and sell them at craft fairs locally. This name would have been a perfect fit for my use and sales. Please reconsider my request to be reconsidered and the name moviestar.photo reinstated/registered in my name with 101domain.com

Correspondence from 101domain provided by Watson (pdf) does not mention ICANN, so I’m not sure how she came to the conclusion that ICANN was to blame.

I fear she has targeted ICANN incorrectly.

The DI PRO name collisions database shows that the string “moviestar” has been blocked by ICANN’s policy on collisions in 15 new gTLDs, but Uniregistry’s .photo is not one of them.

Whois records show that moviestar.photo is in fact registered to North Sound Names. That’s the name of the Uniregistry affiliate currently in control of tens of thousands of Uniregistry premium names.

The RfR is not the venue for this kind of complaint and it’s likely to be dismissed for that reason. There’s not much ICANN can do about it.

Perhaps Watson would have better luck writing a begging letter to Uniregistry CEO Frank Schilling, who has indicated his willingness to allocate premium names to deserving users.

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Comments (27)

  1. She would indeed (no begging required). We are pleased to place certain valuable names with would-be registrants who have shown themselves to be sincere and legitimate site-builders and developers. We remain on guard against those who would attempt to take advantage of altruism for naked (quick flip) commercial gains.

    As someone who started out investing in SLDs I respect commercial registrants (domainers) and the role they play in investing in a space. We have endeavored to leave great value and opportunity in our namespaces for those individuals by either releasing the spaces completely open (in the case of .pics .guitars) or by leaving a viable plural when the singular form of a name is unavailable at registration price.

    Ironically, at the time of this writing moviestars.photo which is worth more than registration price (in my view) and makes sense as a genuinely viable plural of the singular, remains unregistered at Uniregistry.com (or any participating registrar), for the first individual with $29.88 and the inclination to buy it.

    This strange disconnect between perceived values; the wholesale availability of names and the opportunity to register anything one wishes, serves as a fine punctuation point on the odd times we live in at the moment. So much has come out so quickly. So much is available, yet so few seem to be willing to look down or pick up the dollar-bills at their feet.

    That will inexorably change over time.

    • Ray Marshall says:

      Frank, your statement above is not entirely correct with regards to .guitars. To make a long story short, I attempted to register a .guitars domain only to have it acquired by another person due to a flawed registration process (IMHO). I brought this issue to Uniregistry’s attention. I received an initial response below from your Director, Luis, followed later by a response from your General Counsel, Bret. Bret acknowledged this issue and agreed to address it with your registrars (hopefully in the near term). With that said, I presented a proposal regarding a reserved .guitars domain which went unanswered and was shortly thereafter followed by an e-mail notification from Luis that my ticket had been closed (with no basis). In the spirit of full disclosure, I do plan on selling some of my .guitars domains and have earmarked another for donation. No need to create another ticket as I assume it will be met with the same response.

    • Markus says:

      moviestars.photo appears to have changed to “unavailable at registration price” in the meantime.

  2. moviestar.pics (singular) available at registration price too.

  3. Danielle Watson says:

    Mr. Murphy, I was suggested to file the proper paperwork regarding this website name, and that I should go through ICANN for a reconsideration. As a laymen, I don’t know a whole lot about purchasing website names, as I only have a few, but thought this was strange to have one reversed and refunded, and wanted an answer.
    Twelve days passed after purchasing this name, and therefore I didn’t understand why this name was no longer available. Since I am just someone who thought this would be a good fit for my craft, and had no intention of flipping or reselling this name, I proceeded with what I thought was the right thing to do. Obviously by the comments posted here, I was not supposed to make this request. As stated above the name is worth more than I paid for it, so it makes sense to me now why this specific name was held. not the .photo, but just the moviestar part.
    No worries Mr. Murphy, I don’t need to beg anyone. This was just a misunderstanding about how to proceed with purchasing a website name, and obviously I was steered in the wrong direction. As they say….my bad!

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      You’re in the vast majority, Danielle. Very few people understand what ICANN does and even fewer understand what Reconsideration is for.

      But it seems like you and Frank may have something to discuss ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Danielle Watson says:

    Hello Mr. Murphy and Mr. Schilling,
    FYI, I would have never known about this website either in which you posted these comments if it had not been for a friend of mine who sent me the link about all the fuss. I apologize if I have caused a huge ruckus, as it was not my intention, and in the future I will not take any advise from a Website Registry’s employee. Had I known this would have caused such a discussion, I wouldn’t have even bothered with getting an answer, and just accepted the refund. Thank you all for the information, as it is greatly appreciated. As you can see by my Linkedin Profile (www.linkedin.com/in/daniellefawnwatson/), I am just an employee at a Real Estate company in Las Vegas, NV, I like arts and crafts in my free time, and have a lot to learn about Website Registries and most importantly ICANN. My best, Danielle

  5. Hi Dani!~

    I just sent you a note to your linked in profile with my email address.

    There are certainly no hard feelings about any of your outreach. As the wise turtle in Kung-fu-panda said: “There are no accidents.”

    Kevin.. we’ll get these names placed one at a time. Now if we could just automate this. : )

    • Louise says:

      Why did the registration payment process, until 12 days later?

      • another one says:

        12 days is still good…

        I know of someone who got more than a month later a request for additional payment b/c the name is premium..So the Registry either forgot to either price it as premium or the registrar didnt have it registered correctly.

        Details to hopefully follow by Kevin.

      • Bret Fausett says:

        @Louise, this was a pre-registration issue, between the registrar and the registrant. According to the note, the “purchase” occurred on April 2nd. The registry didn’t launch .PHOTO until April 15th.

        Uniregistry published a statement on pre-registrations here: http://uniregistry.link/about-pre-registrations/

        • Louise says:

          Hi Brett, I read the press release about pre-registration on theDomains.

          Why not beat back the Registrars offering pre-registration, against UniRegistry’s policy? Show a little decorum!

          It appears, you are using interest generated by Registrants to guide your list of premiums, then denying the name to the source of the interest!

          • Bret Fausett says:

            Louise, the registrars had the list of premiums well before April 2nd. Some registrars screened against it early. Others used it later. We recommended that they use it, and I am sorry that yours didn’t, until the day before general availability.

          • Louise says:

            @ Brett, thanx for your response. You are hanging in there on what seems a contentious topic.

            You are legal counsel. Why not provide a clause in your agreement with the Registrars to block registrations of premium names? Frank Schilling and staff did not get to be successful ignoring details and leaving customer signups to chance. Or, at least to post a link to the list of premiums, if the Registrar didn’t want to update the reserve software to block premiums.

            If the premiums lists are available for before general availability, please post the dot gift link right here, where I can view the premiums that will not be available. Thank you.

  6. A Murphy says:

    “We have endeavored to leave great value and opportunity in our namespaces for those individuals by either releasing the spaces completely open (in the case of .pics .guitars) ”

    .guitars was not completely open

  7. Danielle Watson says:

    Mr. Fausett, Let me address the issue with the purchase date. I went to 101Domain.com and started typing in some names suitable for my needs, both plural and non plural. At the time, I saw only one of those names available on their website and that was moviestar.photo. It didn’t have any pre-registration button, only to purchase it! So, I went to the shopping cart, it gave me a price, and I purchased it. Simple as that, or so I thought! It seems to me that Louise is “spot on” with the general interest for a name. With that said, if I do decide to purchase another name, I now understand the real process behind the scenes, and it surely has certainly taught me a few things about purchasing the new gLTDs!

    • Hi Danielle & Kevin,

      Thank you for the posts here. It provides registrars and registries valuable feedback during these early launch phases.

      At 101domain, we accept pre-orders with payment prior to the actual launch of a new domain name and many times before the registry’s technical systems are ready. The reason for this is to allow interested customers to research and prepare their orders with plenty of time. Customers have overwhelmingly demanded this service.

      Unfortunately, many of the processes between registries and registrars are very manual processes. I have personally pushed on our registry partners for fully automated procedures so that customers such as yourself are not misled for any amount of time.

      This does not always happen.

      You will see disclaimers throughout the purchase process, but many customers miss these messages. Due to feedback, we have made these messages clearer and have also added them to our order confirmation emails.

      Be assured that we are continuously evaluating these processes and working very closely with registries based on feedback like yours. Registrars are at the mercy of registry policies and feedback like this makes our cases stronger.

      If you would like to discuss any specifics, feel free to contact me directly at anthony [at ] 101domain.com

      Sincerely,
      Anthony M. Beltran
      COO/CFO
      101domain, Inc.

      • Louise says:

        Post a link to the list of premiums. @ Bret Fausett said list is given to the Registrar.

      • Ray Marshall says:

        “Registrars are at the mercy of registry policies and feedback like this makes our cases stronger.”

        Based on the feedback I received from Bret, the registries appear to be at the mercy of the registrars. That’s how Uniregistry feels comfortable in walking away from my situation. From my perspective, both have skin in the game and both should make sure their control environments are prepared to handle these situations before go-live. This would include proper SIT, UAT, policies/procedures, etc. Perhaps both would benefit from having an SSAE 16 performed on their internal controls. Of course, these measures can only mitigate such risks, not eliminate them. And, if in the end, you still encounter such problems, at least be honest and genuine with your customers by trying to right an unfortunate wrong, especially when you are aware that a gap exists in your process, rather than half-heartedly respond to give the impression that you want to provide great customer service and, instead, conveniently place the blame on someone else, i.e., Uniregistry pointing its finger at the registrar in situation. Given the articles I’ve read on Frank, I believe he genuinely cares about his work product. Unfortunately, this devotion to customer service isn’t share by his staff.

        “Unfortunately, many of the processes between registries and registrars are very manual processes. I have personally pushed on our registry partners for fully automated procedures so that customers such as yourself are not misled for any amount of time.

        This does not always happen.

        You will see disclaimers throughout the purchase process, but many customers miss these messages.”

        Honestly, if you know your customers are likely to miss these messages and you’re not satisfied with the control environment around these manual processes, then why promote their domains? You are the COO/CFO of your company which affords you the veto power to bless, or decline, such arrangements. Sorry, but, your explanations above only make your case weaker, not stronger. Again, both have skin in the game and both should be held accountable!

  8. Danielle Watson says:

    Thank you Mr. Murphy for the Post, and most importantly, Many Thanks to Mr. Schilling!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Louise says:

    The definition of front running is: “Domain name front running is the practice whereby a domain name registrar uses insider information to register domains for the purpose of re-selling them or earning revenue via ads placed on the domain’s landing page.” according to Wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_name_front_running. If the new gTLD registries use Registrant-initiated applications to determine its list of premiums, that is a fair comparison to front-running. If “the registrars had the list of premiums well before [general availability],” as Bret Fausett, UniRegistry’s legal counsel, asserts in a comment, above, and this list isn’t flexible, then publish the list for the benefit of Registrants. Frank himself wouldn’t waste time or allow his idea to be exposed, if he thought it might be grabbed through a “flexible” premium list policy! Please post a link here to the list of premium dot gift, which is already available, here. Sincerely, Louise

  10. Rich S says:

    This was all going on at the time when the market believed Uniregistery either would not be having premium domains or holding any back any for their own benefit. Indeed, this was all going on before North Sound Names had even registered a website.

    Color me “unconvinced”.

  11. Louise says:

    Any reasonable person would agree a “flexible” premium list where hand registrations get added on a case-by-case basis throws cold water on enthusiasm to create somethng new on a new gTLD, not that anything is inherently wrong with them. The premium lists should be clearly defined for this logical thinker to spend time and energy to hand register a nifty brand.

  12. Louise says:

    In other words, I don’t want to waste time being an unpaid focus group, to come up with domains which are prospective, “premium,” on your list.

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