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Verisign raises .name prices

Kevin Murphy, February 4, 2013, Domain Registries

Verisign plans to add 10% to the price of a .name domain name, judging by published correspondence.

In a price list sent to ICANN last week, the maximum registry fee for a one-year registration at the second level in .name will be set at $6.60 from August 1, 2013.

It appears to be the first such price increase in .name since the current registry contract was signed back in 2007. That contract set the fee at $6, with maximum hikes of 10% a year.

The new price list (pdf) is rather extensive, also covering products such as email forwarding and .name’s rather expensive wildcard-based defensive registrations.

Links to Verisign’s current pricing for these services are currently broken, so I can’t tell right now whether they’re going up, down, or staying the same.

It’s the second price increase Verisign has announced since it lost the right to hike the registry fee for .com last year. It is also raising .net prices later this year.

Jiwani quits as president of RegistryPro

Kevin Murphy, February 1, 2013, Domain Registries

Karim Jiwani, president of Afilias unit RegistryPro, has quit to explore new opportunities in the domain name business.

Jiwani, whom we profiled in depth recently, joined Afilias when it acquired RegistryPro, the .pro registry, a year ago, so the move is not entirely surprising.

Prior to RegistryPro, he headed up Afilias’ business in Europe.

“Mr. Jiwani plans to pursue other opportunities in the expanding domain industry,” Afilias said.

Google backing new gTLD trade association

Kevin Murphy, January 24, 2013, Domain Registries

New gTLD applicants and others have been meeting in Amsterdam this morning to discuss setting up a new trade association to promote new gTLDs and domain names in general.

The meeting, which was organized by Google, coincided with but was separate from an ICANN registry-registrar gathering in the city.

According to sources on the ground, the proposed trade association would be focused on raising consumer awareness about domain names and their benefits, outside of the ICANN community.

It’s a very early-stage idea, and today’s meeting — we hear — discussed things like possible funding sources and membership requirements.

More details are expected to emerge later today.

We also hear that the important topic of “universal acceptance” of TLDs has been discussed.

As we reported earlier in the week, there’s still not enough support from major software developers (including browser makers, whose job it is to connect users to web sites) for some of the newest TLDs.

Lack of awareness could cause technical problems as well as marketing ones, so a trade association — especially one back by Google’s headline-raising powers — may well be good for the industry.

Google is an applicant for almost 100 new gTLDs.

Afilias doubles .pro registrations in a year

Kevin Murphy, January 21, 2013, Domain Registries

Afilias says it has managed to grow .pro by 100% just one year after acquiring RegistryPro, despite an abuse crackdown and a tightening of registration policies.

RegistryPro president Karim Jiwani, speaking to DI earlier this month, said that .pro currently has roughly 160,000 domain names under management, compared to 120,000 at the time of the deal.

However, .pro lost about 40,000 domains — all Zip codes registered to former registry owner Hostway — six months ago. Excluding these names, domains leaped from 80,000 to 160,000.

Jiwani said that steep discounting and the on-boarding of a few big new registrars — notably Directi — are mostly responsible for the growth.

It’s all organic growth — regular registrations — he said, with none of the dubious type of big one-off deals that gTLD registries often rely on to show adoption.

The growth has come despite the fact that Afilias is cracking down on loopholes that have previously enabled registrars to sell .pro names to people without professional credentials.

At the time of the acquisition, registrars were accepting business licenses as credentials, but Jiwani said that this should no longer be possible.

“We’ve been trying to get to the registrars and let them now that a business license is not acceptable as a verification tool,” he said, “and we will continue to reach out to registrars and let them know.”

With some profession-specific new gTLDs (such as .doctor and .lawyer) likely to be approved by ICANN over the next year or two, Afilias wants it to be known that .pro has a broader customer base.

“What we did was try to get out to registrars and explain to them that you don’t just have to be a doctor or a lawyer to get a .pro domain,” Jiwani said.

“We explained to them that there are many, many professions in the world — from massage therapists to radiologists to tour guides,” he said. “It opened up the mindset of the registrars a little bit and they were promoting it to a wider array of professionals.”

Our full interview with Jiwani, in which he discusses the challenges of growing a restricted registry, fighting abuse, and how legacy gTLDs can compete with new gTLDs can be read on DI PRO:

Interview: RegistryPro president Karim Jiwani on the challenges of growing a restricted gTLD

Nominet sues domainer gripe site for defamation

Kevin Murphy, January 21, 2013, Domain Registries

Nominet has sued a fierce critic of the organization after apparently trying and failing to have his web site shut down.

The company, which runs .uk, said is has filed High Court defamation proceedings against Graeme Wingate and his company That Internet Limited, seeking an injunction against that.co.uk and avoid.co.uk.

The two sites have since last October last year carried a number of rambling allegations against Nominet and, more specifically, its CEO, Lesley Cowley.

Wingate, like many .uk domainers, is furious that Nominet plans to launch direct second-level registrations under .uk, giving trademark owners sunrise priority over owners of matching .co.uk domains.

While that.co.uk focuses mainly on this Direct.uk initiative, avoid.co.uk takes broader swipes at Cowley specifically, stating:

the idea behind Avoid.co.uk is to focus solely on the leadership of Ms Lesley Cowley, Chief Executive of Nominet and her immediate removal as CEO on the grounds of dishonestly, transparency and incompetence.

While not spelling out exactly what content it considers defamatory, Nominet said:

While we are entirely comfortable with legitimate protest about Nominet’s actions or proposals, there are assertions about Nominet and our CEO published on the avoid.co.uk and that.co.uk sites that are untrue and defamatory.

The Board is united in its view that harassment and victimisation of our staff is unacceptable, and that Nominet should take appropriate action to support staff and protect our reputation.

According to avoid.co.uk, Nominet tried to get the sites taken down by their web hosts on at least two separate occasions since November. It’s moved to a Chinese host in an attempt to avoid these takedown attempts.

The antagonism between some domainers and Cowley is long-running, rooted in a clash between domainer members of its board of directors and senior executives in 2008.

As I reported for The Register last August, evidence emerged during an employment tribunal case with a “whistleblower”, former policy chief Emily Taylor, that Nominet may have secret colluded with the UK government in order to architect a reform process that would give domainers substantially less power over the company.

It later emerged that Nominet and UK civil servants communicated via private email addresses during this process, apparently in order to dodge Freedom Of Information Act requests.

A subsequent internal investigation by Nominent chair Baroness Rennie Fritchie last November concluded that “Nominet did not manufacture Government concern” and that the private emails were a “misguided attempt to ensure that open and honest conversations… could take place” rather than attempts to avoid FOI.