Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

ICANN reveals 81 passes and one failure in latest new gTLD results batch

The weekly batch of new gTLD Initial Evaluation results has just been published, revealing 81 passes and one failure — the first failure that isn’t a dot-brand.

DOTPAY SA, a Swiss company, only scored 7 out of the necessary 8 points on its financial evaluation and is therefore now categorized as “Eligible for Extended Evaluation”.

That might be bad news for the other .pay applicant, Amazon, which will now have to wait some months for extended evaluation to take place before the contention set can be resolved.

DOTPAY’s .pay bid is the fourth application to fail Initial Evaluation.

The 81 passing applications this week are (links are to DI PRO):

.salon .music .loft .creditunion .careers .polo .vip .homedepot .mrporter .sarl .observer .dance .forsale .blue .game .market .fashion .tour .iwc .george .pink .fox .spiegel .reise kinder .hoteis .nike .arab .dev .diamonds .nico .cloud .law .tickets .photography .pay .channel .java .academy .nexus zippo .plus .enterprises .goog .apartments .supplies .gmbh .krd .fan .company .wow .spot .travelers .love .joburg .exchange .basketball .directory .art .today .money .kitchen .read .jot .vodka .icu .doha .hospital .chat .theguardian .jetzt .capital .natura .camp .protection .wow .gcc .pizza .supply .amex .wed .ott

There are now 514 passing applications. We’re up to 600 in the priority number queue.

ICANN won’t say how Demand Media passed its new gTLD background check

After badgering ICANN for a few weeks, I’ve finally got a firm “no comment” on the question of how new gTLD applicant Demand Media managed to pass its background checks.

The question of whether it’s possible for serial cybersquatters to bypass ICANN screening and be awarded new gTLDs just by setting up shell companies is still open, it seems.

As DI and other blogs have been reporting for the past few years, there was a question mark over Demand Media’s eligibility for the new gTLD program due to its history of cybersquatting.

Under ICANN rules, any company that lost three or more UDRP decisions with at least one loss in the last three years would not pass its background screening. The Applicant Guidebook states:

In the absence of exceptional circumstances, applications from any entity with or including any individual with convictions or decisions of the types listed in (a) – (m) below will be automatically disqualified from the program.

m. has been involved in a pattern of adverse, final decisions indicating that the applicant or individual named in the application was engaged in cybersquatting as defined in the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), or other equivalent legislation, or was engaged in reverse domain name hijacking under the UDRP or bad faith or reckless disregard under the ACPA or other equivalent legislation. Three or more such decisions with one occurring in the last four years will generally be considered to constitute a pattern.

Demand Media subsidiary Demand Domains has lost over 30 UDRP cases, most recently in 2011, but its United TLD Holdco subsidiary has sailed through its Initial Evaluations.

Technically, shouldn’t it have failed screening and therefore IE?

Domain Name Wire speculated in November 2010 that ICANN had deliberately introduced loopholes in order to let Demand — and, at the time, Go Daddy — into the new gTLD program.

At that time, ICANN had just removed references to “any person or entity owning (or beneficially owning) fifteen percent or more of the applicant” in the background screening section of the Guidebook.

That might have introduced a loophole allowing subsidiaries of cybersquatters to apply.

But Demand Media seemed to think it was still at risk, asking ICANN in December 2010 to change the background check rules.

ICANN did. In the next version of the Guidebook, published in April 2011, it added the “In the absence of exceptional circumstances” qualifying language.

It’s also possible that this was the loophole that allowed Demand to pass screening.

Judging by the UDRP complaints it was involved in in the past, the company usually argued against the “bad faith” element of the policy. It often said it didn’t know about the complainant’s trademark and/or said it had offered to transfer the domain at no charge.

But more than 30 UDRP panelists didn’t buy that argument and still found against Demand. The company lost far more complaints than it won.

The fact that the company apparently managed to clean its act up a few years ago — not being hit with any complaints since 2011 — suggests that its act wasn’t all that clean to begin with.

Either way, neither ICANN nor Demand wants to talk about how the company passed screening, so I guess we’re still left wondering whether this section of the Guidebook is worth the PDF it’s written on.

Private gTLD auctions really will be private

The first new gTLD auctions to be held by Innovative Auctions is set to take place on Monday, but we won’t know which applicants took part until after the fact.

Innovative, which is managing the auction process designed by Cramton Associates, told DI it might announce the participants next week, after the auctions are over.

Failing that, we’ll have to infer the winners from which applications are subsequently formally withdrawn from contention with ICANN.

The only companies to publicly announce their participation so far are Donuts and Demand Media — which as partners are obviously not in any contention sets with each other — and .Club Domains.

Donuts has previously announced that it would submit 63 applications to auction, but 17 of those probably won’t go ahead because Uniregistry, which doesn’t like the private auction idea, has declined to take part.

Demand Media’s applicant, United TLD Holdco has committed its bids for .fishing, .green, .mom, .rip and .wow to the auction. Unless Uniregistry has changed its mind, the .mom one won’t be happening.

It also seems unlikely many winning bids will be disclosed.

Under the terms designed by Cramton, if only one applicant in an auction decides it wants to keep the outcome private, the other applicants will be contractually bound to keep schtum.

Private auctions will see money flow to losing applicants, some of which will also face ICANN-managed auctions at a later date. They may not want to reveal their wedge by having their pay-off public knowledge.

Chinese geo gTLD bidder drops out of two-way fight

The Chinese government-controlled news agency Xinhua has dropped out of the race for the new gTLD .广东 — the local name of Guangdong, China’s most populous province.

The withdrawal clears a path for the only other applicant for the string, Guangzhou Yu Wei Information Technology, to pass more quickly through the ICANN approval process.

Guangzhou Yu Wei is affiliated with Zodiac Holdings, the Cayman Islands-based portfolio applicant founded by James Seng, but it also has backing from the Guangdong provincial government.

As a formally designated Geographic string, government backing is necessary for approval.

Xinhua had not appeared especially enthusiastic about its bid. Its prioritization number of 1772 means it didn’t bother to participate in ICANN’s lottery last December.

Zodiac, on the other hand, took advantage of the IDN bias in the process and wound up with a priority of 79. It passed Initial Evaluation in early April.

The company filed a Community application, but a Community Priority Evaluation will obviously no longer be required. It intends to restrict .广东 to registrants that can prove a local presence.

Zodiac is using .cn registry CNNIC as its back-end registry provider.

Tiny Tokelau now has the biggest ccTLD in the world

The .tk domain is now the biggest ccTLD in the world, according to the latest stats from Centr.

In its just-published biannual Domainwire Stat Report, Centr says that .tk had 16.7 million registered domains in April, taking the #1 spot in the league table for the first time.

It now out-ranks Germany’s .de (15.4 million), the United Kingdom’s .uk (10.5 million), China’s .cn (7.5 million) and the Netherland’s .nl (5.2 million), despite Tokelau having a population of less than 1,500.

The reason for its success, of course, is that .tk domains are free to register. The ccTLD frequently pops up towards the top of abuse lists for that very reason.

At 54.7%, .tk wasn’t the fastest-growing ccTLD over the six months covered by Centr’s report, however. That honor belongs to .cn, which bounced back from previous declines with an 82.7% growth rate.