Domain name registrar Blacknight Solutions has warned domain buyers not to be “duped” by registrars offering preregistration in new top-level domains that have not yet been approved.
“Every time an end user gets duped it hurts our industry and companies like us have to clean up the mess,” managing director Michele Neylon said.
In a press release, Blacknight said:
After receiving several queries from customers, Blacknight discovered that registrants interested in acquiring domains in rumoured new gTLDs had become confused by these offers, as they are not familiar with how the new TLD implementation might work. This sort of speculative offer is the equivalent of taking a down payment on a concept car that has not been approved for production. It is a false promise.
While the company was diplomatic enough to avoid naming names, I strongly suspect the release refers primarily to United Domains, which has been offering preregistration for the last few months.
UD currently offers such services for dozens of non-existent TLDs, such as (without leaving the B’s) .bank .bayern .bcn .berlin .bike and .board.
Given that none of the 50-odd potential gTLD applicants listed have revealed what their registration policies will be, it seems possible that many wannabe registrants will be left disappointed.
Don’t expect to be able to get a .bank domain via preregistration.
UD’s preregistering process looks a lot like a regular shopping cart, albeit with $0 pricing and no requirement to submit credit card details.
There is a FAQ that, if you read it, explains that there can be no guarantee you’ll get the names you ask for.
These services, and others like it, are basically ways to build up mailing lists of interested buyers, in order to contact them when domains actually start becoming available.
The registrar has already been burned by a couple of gTLD applicants.
LACNIC sent UD a nastygram in April, for example, when it discovered the registrar was offering preregistration in .lac.
Bizarrely, UD was at one stage accepting preregistration in .brand gTLDs in which literally no third party will qualify to buy a domain, such as .unicef.
ICANN has not to my recollection publicly stated a position on preregistration since 2000, when it said that “the practice of pre-registration should not be encouraged”.