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VeriSign’s upcoming battle for the Chinese .com

Kevin Murphy, February 16, 2011, 12:49:32 (UTC), Domain Registries

Could VeriSign be about to face off against China for control of the Chinese version of .com? That’s an intriguing possibility that was raised during the .nxt conference last week.

Almost as an aside, auDA chief Chris Disspain mentioned during a session that he believes there are moves afoot in China to apply to ICANN for “company”, “network” and “organization” in Chinese characters. In other words, .com, .net and .org.

I’ve been unable to find an official announcement of any such Chinese application, but I’m reliably informed that Noises Have Been Made.

VeriSign has for several quarters been open about its plans to apply for IDN equivalents of its two flagship TLDs, and PIR’s new CEO Brian Cute recently told me he wants to do the same for .org.

While neither company has specified which scripts they’re looking at, Chinese is a no-brainer. As of this week, the nation is the world’s second-largest economy, and easily its most populous.

Since we’re already speculating, let’s speculate some more: who would win the Chinese .com under ICANN’s application rules, VeriSign or China?

If the two strings were close enough to wind up in a contention set, could VeriSign claim intellectual property rights, on the basis of its .com business? It seems like a stretch.

Could China leapfrog to the end of the process with a community application and a demand for a Community Priority Evaluation?

That also seems like a stretch. It’s not impossible – there’s arguably a “community” of companies registered with the Chinese government – but such a move would likely stink of gaming.

Is there a technical stability argument to be made? Is 公司. (which Google tells me means “company” in Chinese) confusingly similar to .com?

If these TLDs went to auction, one thing is certain: there are few potential applicants with deeper pockets than VeriSign, but China is one of them.

UPDATE: VeriSign’s Pat Kane was good enough to post a lengthy explanation of the company’s IDN strategy in the comments.

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Comments (19)

  1. ASEAN Portal says:

    Well, it’s good if China gets to control the Chinese version of the .com. There would be competition and we know that competition is good for everyone.

  2. andrew says:

    I’ve raised this issue before and I’ll raise it again since no one seems to care…but:

    What happens if VeriSign gets 15 .com “equivalents” in IDN tlds and then loses the .com contract? Then you’d have two different companies running fragmented registries.

    Same could be said for PIR.

  3. Steve says:

    Verisign should get it and yesterday isn’t soon enough. The foot-dragging for idn.idn in .com, .net and org is ridiculous. They were supposed to bring the idn cctld’s and gtld’s online together so one doesn’t get a jump on the other. Idn cctld’s are off to the races and the .com, .net.org idn gtld’s get left in the dust. It needs to be done yesterday. imo.

  4. JS says:

    Verisign will apply for transliterations of .com / .net, which aren’t necess. the same as translations of “company” and “network”, yet an argument could be made that the two are confusingly similar and that one should block the other.

    Should be interesting.

  5. MS says:

    I believe China would get the Chinese (Simplified and Traditional) version for the word Company in Chinese and verisign would get the transliteration of .com in Chinese.

    It is important to clearly explain that only the registrant of 汽车.com will later be able to get the domain 100% in the native script (idn.idn):
    汽车.ComTransliterationInChinese

    Same for all other languages, Only the registrant of דוגמא.com will later get דוגמא.קום and only the registrant of пример.com will later be able to get пример.ком etc.

  6. Pat Kane says:

    Kevin,

    Just as a point of clarification, based on the details you described in your story, it is unlikely that Verisign would view the Chinese-language versions of the full words “company” and “network” reported to be sought by the Chinese government to be the same as – or even “confusingly similar” to – the transliterated versions of.com and .net that Verisign would potentially seek.

    Verisign does not operate “.company” in ASCII text, and it is not likely that we’d seek it in other scripts. Our primary interest would be in a Chinese transliteration of the three-letter extension “.com,” not the word company.

    While domains based on Chinese-language versions of the words ”company” and “network” may serve similar audiences as .com and .net, Verisign views them both as viable choices for Internet identities , as long as it doesn’t create unnecessary confusion surrounding .com and .net. Internet end-users around the globe already have many domain choices that serve similar audiences (.co.uk, .co, .biz, etc.) and we look forward to continuing to provide meaningful identity services beyond when new gTLDs are introduced.

    Our IDN strategy is focused on ensuring that all users enjoy a predictable, uniform experience in .com and .net regardless of their language or geographic location. When we apply for IDN versions of .com and .net, we will be applying for direct transliterations of “.com” and “.net,” which we believe will help to ensure continuity and connectivity. Of course, there may be instances where the transliteration itself – when translated – means something inappropriate, in which case we would seek an alternative.

    Another aspect of Verisign’s IDN strategy may, at some point, involve acting as the registry operator or provide back-end registry services for other IDN tlds, but that would be unlikely to have an impact on the dynamic you describe.

    Pat

    • Drewbert says:

      Pat,

      Did you bother to check to see what the “transliteration” of .com and .net were (hint: there aren’t any) before publicly handing over your intellectual property to someone else.

      Why do you think CNNIC uses 公司.cn (company) for it’s IDN version of com.cn ?

      If you can’t get your mind around the Chinese language, employ someone at Verisign who can BEFORE you go making such statements in public and flushing your best asset down the toilet.

      THERE GOES VERISIGN’S STOCK PRICE.

  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Yanni, Kevin Murphy. Kevin Murphy said: VeriSign has posted a detailed response to my Chinese IDN speculation http://bit.ly/fZtjiy […]

  8. Francesco says:

    Just for completeness (and to further complicate the situation), you should probably mention that CNNIC already offers Chinese Domain Names corresponding to com and net (the advantages of controlling the entire internet in your country is that you can run your own alternative root successfully ;)).

    More details here http://www1.cnnic.cn/html/Dir/2005/10/11/3218.htm

  9. […] VeriSign’s upcoming battle for the Chinese .com […]

  10. […] to continuing to provide meaningful identity services beyond when new gTLDs are introduced. http://domainincite.com/3505-verisig…he-chinese-com __________________ These are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others. – Groucho […]

  11. […] WAS UP IN 2011, EVEN DREWBERT TRIED TO GIVE THEM A KICK IN THE SHINS! From February of 2011: http://domainincite.com/3505-verisig…he-chinese-com Pat Kane (OF VERISIGN) says: February 17, 2011 at 7:41 pm Kevin, Just as a point of […]

  12. […] too TD. Will they possibly object to .company and not .gongsi ? Pat Kane said they would not http://domainincite.com/3505-verisig…m#comment-4263 __________________ […]

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