The upcoming auction for .shop and .shopping new gTLDs is weird, but in a different way to which I reported on Friday.
The actual rules, which are pretty complicated, mean that one applicant could win a gTLD auction without spending a single penny.
The nine applicants for .shop and the two applicants for .shopping are not necessarily all fighting it out to be a single victor, which is what I originally reported.
Rather, it seems to be certain that both .shop and .shopping will wind up being delegated.
The ICANN rules about indirect contention are not well-documented, as far as I can tell.
When I originally reported on the rules exactly two years ago today, I thought an animated GIF of a man’s head exploding was an appropriate way to end the story.
In the .shop/.shopping case, it seems that all 11 applications — nine for .shop and two for .shopping — will be lumped into the same auction.
Which applicant drops out first will determine whether both strings get delegated or only one.
Uniregistry and Donuts have applied for .shopping, but only Donuts’ application is in contention with Commercial Connect’s .shop application (due to a String Confusion Objection).
As Donuts has applied for both .shop and .shopping, it will be submitting separate bids for each application during the auction.
The auction could play out in one of three general ways.
Commercial Connect drops out. If Commercial Connect finds the .shop auction getting too rich for it and drops out, the .shopping contention set will immediately become an entirely separate auction between Uniregistry and Donuts. In this scenario, both .shop and .shopping get to become real gTLDs.
Donuts drops its .shopping bid. If Donuts drops its bid for .shopping, Uniregistry is no longer in indirect contention with Commercial Connect’s .shop application, so it gets .shopping for free.
Commercial Connect wins .shop. If Commercial Connect prevails in .shop, that means Donuts has withdrawn from the .shopping auction and Uniregistry wins.
It’s complicated, and doesn’t make a lot of logical sense, but it seems them’s the rules.
It could have been even more complex. Until recently, Amazon’s application for .通販 was also in indirect contention with .shop.
Thanks to Rubens Kuhl of Nic.br for pointing out the error.
The new gTLDs .shop, .shopping, .cam and .phone are all set to go to auction after their various delays and objections were cleared up.
It seems that .shop and .shopping contention sets remain merged, so only one string from one applicant will emerge victorious.
That’s due to a completely mad String Confusion Objection decision that ruled the two words are too confusingly similar to coexist in the DNS.
That SCO ruling was made by the same guy who held up both sets of applications when he ruled that .shop and .通販 (“.onlineshopping”) were also too confusingly similar.
The two rulings combined linked the contention sets for all three strings.
.通販 applicant Amazon appealed its SCO loss using a special process that ICANN created especially for the occasion, and won.
But .shop and .shopping applicants were not given the same right to appeal, meaning the auction will take place between nine .shop applicants and .shopping applicants Uniregistry and Donuts.
Donuts is an applicant for .shop and .shopping, meaning it will have to make its mind up which string it prefers, if it intends to win the auction. If it’s a private auction, Donuts would presumably qualify for a share of its own winning bid. Weird.
(UPDATE: That was incorrect).
The other contention set held up by an inconsistent SCO decision was .cam, which was originally ruled too similar to .com.
Rightside won its appeal too, meaning it will be fought at auction between Famous Four, Rightside and AC Webconnecting.
.phone had been held up for different reasons.
It’s a two-way fight between Donuts and Dish DBS, a TV company that wanted to run .phone as a closed generic. Like almost all closed generic applicants, Dish has since changed its plans.
Cars Registry has set pricing for .car, .cars and .auto domains at crazy-high levels.
If you want to buy a domain in any of the three gTLDs on day one, it will cost you a whopping $45,000.
If you buy one during regular general availability, it’s likely to set you back $2,500.
The registry, a partnership of Uniregistry and XYZ.com, has set its registry fee at $2,000, according to an email sent to registrars this week.
That’s a buck higher than .sucks, one of the most expensive new gTLDs to launch to date.
The sunrise fee will be $3,000 — made up of the regular $2,000 fee plus an added $1,000. Again, that’s higher than .sucks.
The Early Access Period — which, as reported yesterday, has replaced the more usual landrush — will run for nine days with prices ranging from $45,000 to $5,000.
Compared to the usual models of XYZ.com and Uniregistry, which tend towards the mass-market, these prices are colossal.
I wonder how much the pricing was influenced by the fact that the registry has the car-related gTLD market almost entirely sewn up.
Its only potential competitor is .autos, which has been delegated for almost 18 months but has yet to even reveal its launch plans and probably isn’t going to be available to the mass market anyway.
Sunrise for all three gTLDS is due to start December 9, ending January 12. EAP will begin that day, and GA will start January 20.
Uniregistry has become the latest registry to adopt the Early Access Period model for some new gTLD launches.
.cars, .car and .auto will all use the EAP, in place of the more typical landrush period, when they launch in January.
Technically, while Uniregistry is running the back-end, the three gTLDS are all being offered by Cars Registry, a partnership between Uniregistry and .xyz registry XYZ.com.
Uniregistry CEO Frank Schilling said it was felt that EAP was needed due to the “stupendous cost” of acquiring the strings.
EAP is a period lasting usually about a week in which the price of registering any domain descends daily from a very high fee on day one — usually above $10,000 at the storefront — to maybe a hundred bucks when the period closes.
The model was pioneered by portfolio registries Donuts and Rightside, but has since been adopted by the likes of Minds + Machines, Radix and XYZ.com.
It’s rapidly becoming the de facto industry standard for new gTLD launches, replacing the auction-based approach to landrush most registries have used in the past.
The driving factor for the industry switch is surely revenue.
Donuts told us late last month that it had sold 48,381 EAP domains across all of its launches to date, where registry prices are believed to start at around the $10,000 mark.
M+M said yesterday that it sold $1.18 million after it chose to use EAP with its recently launched .law gTLD, where registration restrictions suggest many of the sales will have been to legit end users.
Registrars also get a bigger slice of the pie. In an auction model they might wind up with just the regular registration fee, but with EAP they can mark up day one domains by thousands of dollars.
Cars Registry says its EAP is targeted at “OEMs, dealerships, vendors”, but it will almost certainly get a healthy chunk of domainer interest too.
Verisign has had its false advertising lawsuit against the .xyz gTLD registry thrown out of court.
XYZ.com this week won a summary judgement, ahead of a trial that was due to start next Monday.
“By granting XYZ a victory on summary judgement, the court found that XYZ won the case as a matter of law because there were no triable issues for a jury,” the company said in a statement.
The judge’s ruling does not go into details about the court’s rationale. XYZ’s motion to dismiss has also not been published.
So it’s difficult to know for sure exactly why the case has been thrown out.
Verisign sued in December, claiming XYZ and CEO Daniel Negari had lied in advertising and media interviews by saying there are no good .com domain names left.
Many of its claims centered on this video:
XYZ said its ads were merely hyperbolic “puffery” rather than lies.
Verisign also claimed that XYZ had massively inflated its purported registration numbers by making a shady $3 million reciprocal domains-for-advertising deal with Network Solutions.
XYZ general counsel Grant Carpenter said in a statement: “These tactics appear to be part of a coordinated anti-competitive scheme by Verisign to stunt competition and maintain its competitive advantage in the industry.”
While Verisign has lost the case, it could be seen to have succeeded in some respects.
XYZ had to pay legal fees in “the seven-figure range”, as well as disclose hundreds of internal company documents — including emails between Negari and me — during the discovery phase.
Through discovery, Verisign has obtained unprecedented insight into how its newest large competitor conducts its business.
While I’ve always thought the lawsuit was silly, I’m now a little disappointed that more details about the XYZ-NetSol deal are now unlikely to emerge in court.