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.shop gTLD sells for record $41.5 million

Kevin Murphy, January 28, 2016, 06:45:20 (UTC), Domain Registries

The nine-way fight for the .shop gTLD has raised $41.5 million at auction.

It’s the most-expensive reported new gTLD sale to date.

The victor was GMO Registry of Japan, which runs a few Asian geographic gTLDs and acts as service provider for over a dozen dot-brands.

GMO wanted .shop so badly it actually applied twice for the gTLD in the 2012 application round.

Only two bidders, GMO and an unidentified rival, were prepared to pay over $15 million, according to ICANN.

The previous record-holder for an ICANN gTLD auction was .app, which Google bought for a smidgen over $25 million last February.

Dozens of contention sets have “self resolved” via private auction, but the winning bids of those are typically not disclosed.

According to GMO’s .shop application, .shop will be an open, unrestricted namespace. The company seems to be planning to sell value-added e-commerce services in addition to domain names.

But domainers will not be welcome in the gTLD. GMO’s application reads:

Registration of a .SHOP domain name solely for the purpose of selling, exchanging, trading, leasing the domain name shall be deemed as inappropriate use or intent.

The company plans to do random spot checks to make sure no registrants are breaking this rule.

GMO is using CentralNic as its back-end registry services software provider, following a 2013 deal.

Radix, Famous Four, Donuts, Google, Amazon, 2000-round applicant Commercial Connect and a company called Beijing Jingdong 360 had all applied for .shop.

But according to ICANN only seven of the original applicants qualified for the auction.

One of the drop-outs was GMO itself. The company has actually applied for .shop twice — once as a regular applicant and once as a “community”.

The non-community application was the one that participated in the auction.

Unsuccessful community applicant Commercial Connect, which has been fighting for .shop since first applying for it in 2000, also did not participate.

On Tuesday, it filed a futile Request for Reconsideration (pdf) with ICANN, complaining about the fact that it lost its Community Priority Evaluation.

.shop was originally linked to .shopping, due to a badly decided String Similarity Objection, but that contention set was resolved separately by Donuts and Uniregistry last week.

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Comments (6)

  1. Let’s hope .shop will be a success like .xyz.

  2. Gavin Brown says:

    GMO run their own backend, using our software.

  3. Christopher Ambler says:

    So an applicant from 2000, who was specifically told that their application wasn’t turned down, had to participate in an auction or walk away. No priority and no recognition of any rights by waiting for over 14 years on a “hang tight, we’ll get to the rest eventually” promise.

    ICANN then made $51MM by violating the contractual rights of that original applicant?

    Seems legit.

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      Neither your .web application or Commercial Connect .shop application from 2000 have any contractual rights. Also, ICANN didn’t make $41MM, since the auction funds disbursement policy is not known at this time. For instance, if the policy ends up being to donate everything to charity, ICANN wouldn’t have made a dime.

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