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It’s Reveal Day and there are 1,930 new gTLD bids

Kevin Murphy, June 13, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN received 1,930 new generic top level domain applications, 751 of which were for contested strings.

While the unveiling of who applied for what is not expected to happen until early this afternoon in London, the organization just published a bunch of facts and figures about the bids.

A grand total of 230 strings are in direct contention, covered by 751 applications (39%) or an average of three or four applicants per string.

There are 66 self-designated geographic applications, aiming to represent many of the world’s cities and regions. That’s 3.4% of the total.

Internationalized domain names — gTLDs in non-Latin scripts — account for 116 applications, or 6% of the total.

Applications that have been pushed into the the tricky “community” route stand at 84, or 4.6%.

Organizations from a total of 60 countries are participating in the round.

North American businesses account for a little under half of all applications, with 911 (47.2%) active bids. Europe is the next largest with 675 (35%), followed by Asia-Pacific with 303 (15.7%)

It’s good news for applicants from Latin America and the Caribbean and from Africa. With just 24 (1.2%) and 17 (0.9%) applications respectively, they’re pretty much all guaranteed a spot in the first evaluation batch.

The names of every applicant — and possibly the public parts of their applications — will be revealed during an official ICANN event at Kings Place, here in London, today.

The gig starts at noon UK time (11am UTC), and will be webcast from 1pm here at icann.org for those not attending in person.

There’ll be a press conference, a panel discussion (which I’m moderating) and a networking event.

Some attendees are retiring to a hotel opposite the venue for drinks afterwards, but I suspect a lot of eyes will be glued to laptops.

Don’t expect many more posts from DI today, but please follow @domainincite for updates if you’re not already.

YouPorn says ICANN not immune from .xxx antitrust

Kevin Murphy, June 9, 2012, Domain Policy

YouPorn owner Manwin Licensing has rejected ICANN’s claim to be immune from antitrust liability.

The company has told a California court that its lawsuit against ICANN and .xxx operator ICM Registry is little different from the landmark case Coalition For ICANN Transparency v Verisign.

Manwin sued ICANN and ICM last November, claiming the two illegally colluded to create a monopoly that, among other things, extorted defensive registration money from porn companies.

But ICANN has said in its attempts to have the case dismissed that the antitrust claims could not apply to it as, for one reason, it “does not engage in trade or commerce”.

Manwin’s oppositions to ICANN’s and ICM’s motions to dismiss rely heavily on the fact that the court allowed CFIT v Verisign, which challenged Verisign’s 2006 .com registry agreement, to go ahead.

Essentially, ICANN is trying to wriggle out of the suit on legal grounds at an early stage, but Manwin reckons there’s precedent for it to have to answer to antitrust claims.

You can read Manwin’s latest court filings here and here.

The case continues.

Neustar adds voice to anti-batching chorus

Kevin Murphy, June 9, 2012, Domain Policy

Neustar and MarkMonitor have come out in opposition to digital archery and new gTLD batching.

In letters to ICANN this week, both companies have asked for delays in the digital archery process to give the community time to come up with better solutions.

Neustar’s new deputy general counsel Becky Burr wrote:

A modest delay would permit both ICANN and the community of affected stakeholders to consider the validity of those assumptions in light of actual applications.

Informed reflection by the community could result in greater efficiencies and fewer disputes down the road.

On the other hand, launching the Digital Archery process prior to publication of the list of applications is going to create winners and losers that will unnecessarily complicate, and perhaps prevent, thoughtful adjustments to the approach.

MarkMonitor’s Elisa Cooper simply wants to know “Why should some TLDs receive the benefit of being delegated before others?” She asked ICANN to reconsider whether batching is necessary.

While it is understandable that not all 1900+ applications cannot be simultaneously processed, why not just wait until all applications have completed the Initial Evaluation before announcing results. Why should some TLDs receive the benefit of being delegated before others?

If batching is even required, allow the Community to see the entire list of applications so that they can provide meaningful feedback. It may become apparent that certain types of strings should be processed together.

MarkMonitor also expressed concern that ICANN’s TLD Application System terms of use may prohibit applicants from using third-party archery services, such as those offered by Pool.com and Digital Archery Experts.

Sharing TAS passwords seems to be against the rules, but would be necessary to let a third party into your TAS account.

(I reported earlier in the week that it would also let the third-party view the confidential portions of your application, but that appears not to be the case after all.)

By officially coming out against batching and archery, Neustar and MarkMonitor join Melbourne IT, Group NBT, ARI Registry Service and the Intellectual Property Constituency.

Digital archery nevertheless is already underway, ICANN having launched the system on schedule yesterday.

All the applicants I’ve spoken to about this seem to be planning to wait until after the Big Reveal next Wednesday before taking their shots.

ICANN going ahead with digital archery

Kevin Murphy, June 7, 2012, Domain Policy

Despite recent calls for it to slam on the brakes, ICANN is going ahead with its plans for the controversial “digital archery” method of batching new gTLD applications.

This morning it published a batch of information about the process, which — let’s face it — is likely to decide whether some new gTLDs live or die.

ICANN has put some outstanding issues to bed. Here are the six most interesting facts about today’s developments:

First and foremost, while applicants in contention sets will find themselves promoted to the same batch as the highest-scoring applicant in that set, no applicant will be demoted out of a batch as a result.

The way ICANN had been talking about batching recently, it looked rather like the first batch would be stuffed with contention sets at the expense of dot-brand and genuine community applicants.

That appears to be no longer the case. The first batch will still be stuffed with contention sets, but with no apparent disadvantage to solo applicants.

It does mean that the first batch is likely to be substantially larger than 500 applications, however.

Second, there will be no proportionality in how geographical regions are assigned to batches. ICANN said the system will use instead the originally devised round-robin method.

This basically means that if there are any fewer than 100 applications from any of ICANN’s five regions, they’ll all be in the first batch. This is pretty good news for African applicants.

Third, archery will indeed run through the wobbly TLD Application System and its reportedly sluggish Citrix remote terminal interface, adding a layer of uncertainty and latency.

This means that if you’re using a third-party archery service, you’re going to have to give it your TAS password, giving that third-party access to the confidential portions of your applications. NDAs may be in order.

Fourth, you’ll get as many practice runs as you want before firing your official arrow. There had been some talk about limiting it to just a handful of tries, but that’s no longer the case.

Fifth, ICANN won’t tell you what your score was until July 11, when the order of the batching is revealed. I can see this policy causing sleepless nights all over the world.

Sixth, there’s no CAPTCHA or Turing test, so automated archery solutions will presumably have one less obstacle to overcome.

It’s still a ropey solution, and I don’t expect calls for it to be abandoned to let up, but for now at least it looks like ICANN is proceeding according to its schedule.

Digital archery starts tomorrow. Here’s a how-to video from ICANN.

Big Reveal confirmed for London

Kevin Murphy, June 6, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN will reveal details of the over 1,900 new top-level domain applications it has received during a press conference starting at 11am UTC next Wednesday.

The event will be held at Kings Place, a venue in the King’s Cross area of London, at noon local time, June 13.

CEO Rod Beckstrom and senior vice president Kurt Pritz will speak at the event, which will be webcast live.

An ICANN spokesperson said that the Big Reveal itself will happen during the press conference — there’ll be a break for journalists to attempt to absorb as much information as they can before the Q&A begins.

I’m waiting for confirmation on whether the full public portions of the applications will be published at that time, or whether it will just be a list.

ICANN said it “will reveal which companies, organizations, start-ups, geographical regions and others have applied for gTLDs and which domain names they are seeking”.