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Realtors withdraw five gTLD community objections

Kevin Murphy, August 8, 2013, Domain Registries

The US-based National Association of Realtors has withdrawn its Community Objections against five applicants for .realestate and .realty, according to well-placed sources.

The five separate objections, which had been combined into one action under the auspices of the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Centre for Expertise, were withdrawn today.

NAR is a million-member trade association — apparently the largest in the US — comprising real estate agents that agree to pay dues and abide by its code of conduct.

It owns a trademark on REALTORS® and, judging by its objection and web site, is not shy about letting you know it. In the States, only NAR members get to call themselves “realtors”.

It has applied for .realestate via a subsidiary, dotRealEstate LLC, and had objected to applications for .realestate from Donuts, Top Level Domain Holdings and Uniregistry, and applications for .realty from Donuts and smaller portfolio applicant Fegistry.

The objections were combined in May, with the consent of the responding applicants.

NAR argued (pdf) that the applied-for strings are synonymous with its community of members, and that the other applicants’ proposed open-house registration policies would tarnish their reputation.

To win a Community Objection, you have to show among other things that there’s a strong nexus between the string at issue and the “clearly delineated” community you purport to represent.

While the case seems to have been withdrawn before it was decided by the ICC panel, NAR’s rivals were zeroing in on this as a weak spot in its objections.

The Uniregistry response (pdf) is as amusingly brutal as you’d expect from company counsel John Berryhill, using the NAR’s own marketing materials and positions in previous lawsuits against it.

Uniregistry pointed for example to a video on NAR’s web site that says:

We need your help to ensure that the term ‘REALTOR’ continues to mean member of the National Association of Realtors, and not just any real estate agent.

Uniregistry took this as an admission from NAR that the nexus between the universe of “real estate” professionals and the NAR is not as strong as the organization had tried to make out.

In Donuts’ two responses (pdf and pdf) also attacked this angle, arguing

Objector and its members make up only a fraction of that “community”… myriad divergent interests and countless individuals and organizations populate the sphere of “realty” around the world. Objector does not claim to speak on behalf of any of them, but rather only its own membership in the United States.

Now that the objections have been withdrawn, and all the applications are still active, the .realestate and .realty contentions sets are both heading to auction or private settlement.

dotShabaka Diary — Day 1

Kevin Murphy, August 8, 2013, Domain Registries

Three weeks ago, dotShabaka Registry became the first of the current crop of new gTLD applicants to sign a registry contract with ICANN, but there’s still a way to go before launch.

The company has offered to provide DI readers, in a series of journal entries, with an insight into its operational experiences and concerns as شبكة. progresses on the path to delegation and launch.

With a Prioritization Draw number of 3, dotShabaka will be often be the first to encounter any pitfalls that emerge in the latter stages of the new gTLD evaluation and delegation process.

DI has agreed to carry the journal, unedited, in the belief that a regular focus on operational matters from a high-prioritization applicant will prove an invaluable resource for applicants and program observers alike.

Here’s the first entry:

Welcome to The شبكة. Journal.

In association with Domain Incite, dotShabaka Registry has launched a journal series to provide regular updates on our progress through delegation and then launch.

The aim will be to offer a transparent insight into the operations of شبكة.. As the first new TLD to sign a Registry Agreement and begin the delegation process, we are throwing the door wide open and will report the good, bad and ugly of our experience via this journal.

You can expect to read reports on our interaction with ICANN, how we handle technical issues and our progress with establishing commercial operations.

For example, we can report that:

شبكة. began pre-delegation testing in the first-available slot on Monday 5th August – nearly three weeks after ICANN’s ‘earliest path’ timetable published in Durban. We are confident of a successful outcome after passing beta testing in July.

Updated RPM Requirements were finally published for comment on 6th August. The good news for شبكة. is the welcomed proposed revisions to support anchor tenants. The bad news is that public comment process is open until 18 September. Another delay!

This lack of certainty has made it impossible for us to finalise launch plans and policies, which is frustrating.

The good news is شبكة. is in the low risk category for New gTLD Collision Risk Management and we don’t expect any impact on the timeline for delegation. Who will be left standing with شبكة. after ICANN’s ‘risk mitigation’ actions for name collisions and GAC Advice are accounted for?

We welcome your feedback and encourage readers to comment below in the Domain Incite comment box. We’ll attempt to address questions the community may have.

Please stay tuned for future updates exclusively via Domain Incite.

One-time disclosure: I’d like to state for the benefit of those who are seemingly always ready to pounce on DI for “selling out” that the journal series are not “sponsored” posts.

There’s no financial relationship whatsoever between DI and dotShabaka or any of its affiliated companies. This is just about the info.

Another dot-brand gTLD bid withdrawn

Kevin Murphy, August 8, 2013, Domain Registries

Eighty-year-old adhesives company Avery Dennison has withdrawn its application for the .avery new gTLD.

The application was ranked 1,780 in ICANN’s evaluation queue, meaning it was due to receive its Initial Evaluation results shortly. By withdrawing now, the company gets a bigger refund.

According to its application, Avery Dennison makes “cutting-edge pressure-sensitive solutions, self-adhesive and reflective base materials, and innovative consumer and office products”.

A dot-brand with a Key-Systems back-end, .avery was the company’s only new gTLD application.

Trademarks still trump founders in latest TMCH spec

Kevin Murphy, August 7, 2013, Domain Registries

New gTLD applicants and ICANN seem to have failed to reach an agreement on how new registries can roll out founders programs when they launch.

A new draft of the Rights Protection Mechanism Requirements published last night, still appears to make it tricky for new gTLD registries to sell domain names to all-important anchor tenants.

The document (pdf), which tells registries what they must do in order to implement Sunrise and Trademark Claims services, is unchanged in many major respects from the original April draft.

But ICANN has published a separate memo (pdf) comprising a handful of asks made by applicants, which highlight where differences remain. Both are now open for public comment until September 18.

Applicants want text adding to the Requirements document that would allow them to give or sell a small number of domains to third parties — namely: anchor tenants — before and during Sunrise periods.

Their suggested text reads:

As set forth in Specification 5 of the Agreement, Registry Operator MAY activate in the DNS up to one hundred (100) names necessary for the operation and promotion of the TLD. Pursuant to these Requirements, Registry Operator MAY register any or all of such domain names in the TLD prior to or during the Sunrise Period to third parties in connection with a registry launch and promotion program for the TLD (a “Qualified Registry Launch Program”), provided that any such registrations will reduce the number of domain names that Registry Operator MAY otherwise use for the operation and promotion of the TLD as set forth in Specification 5.

The base new gTLD Registry Agreement currently allows up to 100 names to be set aside before Sunrise only on the condition that ownership stays in the hands of the registry for the duration of the registration.

Left unaltered, that could complicate deals where the registry wants to get early registrants through the door to help it promote its gTLD during the critical first few months.

A second request from applicants deals with the problem that Sunrise periods also might interfere with preferred allocation programs during the launch of community and geographic gTLDs.

An example given during the recent ICANN Durban meeting was that of the .london registry giving first dibs on to the Metropolitan Police, rather than a trademark owner such as the Sting-fronted band.

The applicants have proposed to allow registries to request “exemptions” to the Requirements to enable this kind of allocation mechanism, which would be offered in addition to the standard obligatory RPMs.

Because these documents are now open for public comment until September 18, that appears to be the absolute earliest date that any new gTLD registry will be able to give its mandatory 30-day pre-Sunrise warning.

In other words, the hypothetical date of the first new gTLD launch appears to have slipped by a couple of weeks.