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English beats Portuguese in $2.2m .hotels auction

Kevin Murphy, November 19, 2015, 14:32:31 (UTC), Domain Registries

Booking.com has won the right to operate .hotels after an auction concluded a protracted fight over the gTLD.

In an ICANN-run auction yesterday, Booking.com prevailed with a winning bid of $2.2 million.

Its sole competitors was Travel Reservations (formerly Despegar Online), which had applied for the Portuguese word .hoteis.

In 2012, a String Similarity Review panel concluded that .hotels and .hoteis look too similar to coexist, due to the likelihood of confusion between I and l in sans-serif fonts.

Neither applicant agreed with that decision, knowing that it would result in a expensive auction, and Booking.com filed a Request for Reconsideration and then, in March 2013, an Independent Review Process complaint.

After two years, it lost the IRP. But the panel said it had “legitimate concerns” about the fairness of the SSR process and ordered ICANN to pay half of its costs.

Now, Booking.com has had to fork out another $2.2 million for the string.

That’s not particularly expensive as ICANN-auctioned gTLDs go. Eight of the 13 other strings ICANN has auctioned have sold for more.

ICANN’s auction proceeds to date now stands at $63,489,127, which is being held in a separate bank account for purposes yet to be determined.

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Comments (2)

  1. Rubens Kuhl says:

    It’s curious that they preferred to not make a private deal on this one…
    BTW, Travel Reservations already has .hoteles delegated, but no launch plan has been filed.

  2. Gaz says:

    I still think it’s daft that they won’t allow similar looking names (hotels & hoteis) but they allow singuar/plurals (hotel).

    I would expect that there will be more confusion around the plural stake.

    It also diminishes value in the domains like this too. You almost need to buy the singular and plural domain, or maybe just not bother if it’s too expensive.

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