Afilias today made the .pro gTLD available to anyone, regardless of their professional qualifications.
The previously restricted TLD was able to do so as a result of its six-week-old contract with ICANN, which loosened many of the conditions former registry RegistryPro originally agreed to when the TLD was delegated 13 years ago.
Under the original Registry Agreements, RegistryPro — since acquired by Afilias — had to verify the professional credentials of potential registrants.
Now that .pro has been brought under something that looks a lot like the 2012 new gTLD RA, it’s pretty much a free-for-all.
The registry said in a press release:
despite demand from registrants and registrars alike, .PRO names have historically been denied to professionals from a wide range of fields such as policemen, firefighters, journalists, programmers, artists, writers, and many others.
In my personal experience, it has been possible to register a .pro domain without providing credentials. I’ve been paying for one for a few years, though I’ve been unable to actually use it.
The gTLD was approved in the original, first round of new gTLD applications, back in 2000.
Part of the original deal was that it would be restricted to three classes of professions — lawyer, doctor, accountant — and only available to buy at the third level.
The third-level limitation was lifted many years ago, but .pro continued to be restricted to people who could show a credential.
However, even as recently as 2012 then-RegistryPro-CEO Karim Jiwani was telling DI that the secret to growth was more restrictions, not less.
He’s no longer with the company.
.pro’s registration numbers have have been suffering the last few years.
The registry peaked at roughly 160,000 names in July 2012, and has been on a downward track ever since. It started this July with about 122,000 registrations.
As part of its new deal with ICANN, Afilias no longer has price caps — previously set around .com prices — and has had to implement some of the provisions of the new gTLD Registry Agreement.
One such provision is the Uniform Rapid Suspension policy, which continues to cause controversy in the industry.