WellPoint, a major North American health insurance provider, has dropped its application for .anthem, a proposed dot-brand gTLD.
It’s the fifth application to be withdrawn this week and the 64th to be withdrawn overall. The pull-out rate from the original 1,930 applications now stands at roughly 3.3%.
It’s also the second bid to be yanked by WellPoint. It pulled its application for .caremore in December, before even receiving an evaluation prioritization number in The Draw.
Wellpoint, which did not apply for .wellpoint, has no applications remaining in the program.
Anthem is a brand used by WellPoint to provide health insurance, mainly in California.
It’s also the original name of the company, which entered its present incarnation with the merger of WellPoint Health Networks Inc and Anthem Inc in 2004.
The gTLD was to be a straightforward .brand with a Neustar back-end. It was uncontested and had no public comments, objections or Governmental Advisory Committee to stand in its way.
It had a very low priority number, however, and was not due to receive its Initial Evaluation results until the final week of the schedule.
Four new gTLD applications have been withdrawn so far this week, including the first to come from .info operator Afilias.
Afilias has pulled its bid for .mail — the second applicant to do so — due to the number of competitors for the string.
A spokesperson said in an email:
The company felt there were simply too many groups in contention for this domain and we’d rather focus our energy supporting and helping to grow the .POST domain, for which we are the [technical services provider].
There are now five applicants competing for the string, including Google, Amazon and Donuts, but they’re all facing objections from the United States Postal Service and the Universal Postal Union, which runs .post.
Elsewhere this week, Directi has ended its bid for .movie, a contention set with seven other bidders.
The company declined to comment on the reasons for the withdrawal, so we probably can’t entirely rule out some kind of partnership with one or more other applicants.
Today we’ve also seen the withdrawal of applications for .ltd and .inc, both belonging to a Dutch company called C.V. TLDcare. I don’t know much about these guys, other than it used OpenRegistry as its technical partner and that .inc and .ltd were its only two applications.
Interesting fact: not a single “corporate identifier” application (.llp, .corp, .ltd, .inc, .llc) has passed Initial Evaluation yet, but seven applications have been withdrawn.
It’s a controversial category, with many US state attorneys general very unhappy about any of these strings being delegated without safeguards.
The latest four withdrawals bring the total to 63.
Top Level Domain Holdings is the latest portfolio applicant to slate the Governmental Advisory Committee’s advice on new gTLDs, calling it “troubling in principle” and “terrifying in practice”.
The company, which applied directly for 70 gTLDs and is involved in several others, filed its comments on the “safeguard advice” in the GAC’s Beijing communique with ICANN today.
The comments focus mainly on the overarching issues of governmental power and process, rather than delve into the nitty-gritty implementation problems presented by the advice.
TLDH CEO Antony Van Couvering wrote:
The Communiqué’s prescriptions define the opposite of a well-regulated sector. Instead of a clear process in which all concerns are weighed, the Communiqué sets up an ad-hoc GAC process from which the views of applicants are excluded.
Instead of clear rules to which industry players must adhere, ill-defined categories have been set up that applicants have a hard time even to understand.
Instead of a clear authority on who will determine policy, the ICANN community must now wonder who is in charge.
The comment points to the fact that the GAC’s 2007 principles on new gTLDs state that applicants should have a clear, objective process to follow, and that Beijing undermines that principle.
It also puts forth the view that the GAC appears to be trying to create policy unilaterally, and in a top-down manner that doesn’t give the Generic Names Supporting Organization a role.
The GAC Beijing Communiqué as enunciated in Section IV.1.b [the safeguard advice] unilaterally expands the role of the GAC from an advisory committee, with a remit of providing advice on policy originating in the GNSO, into a policy-making body from which other members of the ICANN community are excluded.
TLDH also notes that some parts of the advice are “not in themselves bad ideas” and that the company has offered to adopt some of them already in the Public Interest Commitments appended to its applications.
It comments follow those from rival Demand Media, which questioned the feasibility of implementing the GAC’s advice, last week.
Separately, over the weekend, Medicus Mundi International Network — an organization of healthcare non-governmental organizations — filed comments saying that the GAC advice does not go far enough.
Rather, it said, ICANN should delay the introduction of .health until a “broad-based consultation of the health community” can be carried out and a “multi-stakeholder” governance model for it created.
Directi appears to be the last man standing in the three-way tie-up for .online, following the latest new gTLD withdrawals.
Namecheap has dropped its .online application, closely following Tucows, which dropped its bid a couple of weeks ago.
The three companies announced a deal in March to see them cooperate to win the contested TLD, but at the time it wasn’t clear which applicants would pull out.
Directi’s bid (filed by DotOnline Inc under the Radix brand) remains. It has already passed Initial Evaluation, which may be part of the reason its application was chosen as the “winner”.
The gTLD is still contested, however. Directi is competing with Donuts, I-Registry and Dot Online LLC.
Separately today, a curious two-way dot-brand battle seems to have had its final twist, with Guardian Life Insurance’s withdrawal of its application for .guardianlife.
The insurance company and newspaper publisher Guardian News and Media had both applied for gTLDs containing the string “guardian”. There were originally five, but only two remain.
It now looks like Guardian News will get .theguardian, having previously conceded .guardian to its brand rival and dropping its bid for .guardianmedia.
It appears that there’s been more than a bit of strategic applying, and maybe some deal-making, here.
Neither remaining application is contested, and neither have objections. It’s likely that .guardian is captured by the Governmental Advisory Committee’s advice against “closed generics”, however.
ICANN’s evaluators have passed 56 more new gTLD applications through Initial Evaluation.
The latest weekly batch of published results cover bids for the following strings:
.aig, .airforce, .art, .axa, .baby, .basketball, .bid, .business, .bzh, .cal, .center, .ceo, .cisco, .cloud, .coach, .codes, .contractors, .cpa, .dell, .diet, .docomo, .duns, .durban, .esurance, .film, .forex, .goo, .got, .guide, .hgtv, .hotels, .itau, .mattel, .mcd, .mcdonalds, .melbourne, .mobile, .mobily, .monash, .nowtv, .onl, .paris, .passagens, .plumbing, .poker, .property, .red, .safety, .silk, .study, .talk, .travelguard, .webcam, .weibo, .wolterskluwer and موبايلي. (Arabic for “Mobily”)
There are now exactly 300 applications with passing scores on IE, one that failed, and 49 that despite their prioritization numbers have yet to receive an answer one way or the other.