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The price of .bar was $100,000 to a school

Wondering how the new gTLD registry Punto 2012 managed to get government approval for .bar, even though it’s a protected geographic term in Montenegro under ICANN rules?

At least part of the deal seems to involve a 10-year, $100,000 commitment to fund a school in the tiny Montenegrin city of Bar, judging by a press release today.

The registry will pay $10,000 a year to the school for the duration of its 10-year registry agreement.

It’s a stroke of good fortune for the city. Whilst not a capital city, it’s also a ISO-designated administrative region of the country and therefore protected by the ICANN Applicant Guidebook.

Punto 2012 intends to reserve a few names for the city, and said it hopes residents will use .bar — intended to represent drinking establishments — as a city TLD also.

With a little over 17,000 inhabitants, Bar is likely going to be have one of the smaller city TLDs, and I expect most registrations will in fact come from bars elsewhere in the world.

In related news, as of last Friday there’s only one new gTLD application of the original 1,930 still under ICANN evaluation and it’s .tata, the dot-brand for a massive Indian conglomerate that is also the name of a province in Morocco. Coincidence? Probably not.

Bieber plug has no impact on .tattoo sales

Justin Bieber used his extensive social media channels to plug a .tattoo domain name to his bazillions of “beliebers” last week, but so far the plug has had no impact on sales of the gTLD.

The pop singer, beloved of 11-year-old girls worldwide, tweeted and Facebooked about the domain joker.tattoo, which leads visitors to his Tumblr blog.

A Facebook update reading simply “My Tumblr is http://joker.tattoo” has been “liked” over 230,000 times and shared almost 2,500 times by the over 70 million people following him on the platform.

Justin Bieber

On Twitter, where Bieber has 52.6 million followers, his identical tweet was retweeted over 50,000 times and favorited close to 60,000 times.

The “news” was even picked up by MTV, which gently ribbed the musician for apparently (don’t ask me, I’m 37) not understanding that Tumblr isn’t just for “selfies”.

But the widespread publicity for a .tattoo name had no impact whatsoever on .tattoo sales, judging by zone files.

The Uniregistry TLD hasn’t grown by more than one name per day since Bieber’s tweet.

One June 27 the .tattoo zone file had 6,312 names in it, today it has 6,316.

The joker.tattoo domain — apparently chosen because Bieber has a tattoo of a joker — is registered to one of the founders of RockLive, a San Francisco selfie-oriented app start-up funded in part by Bieber.

The domain redirects to a Tumblr third-level subdomain, so there’s no visibility for the new gTLD in browser address bars.

There’s also the issue that most of Bieber’s fans are probably too young to own a credit card, which is a prerequisite for buying a domain name.

No mention of .london at ICANN London

The forthcoming .london gTLD didn’t get a look in during the opening ceremony of ICANN 50, held this morning in London.

The host city gTLD’s complete absence from the two-hour event — it wasn’t mentioned once — would have escaped notice had it not been for the abundance of plugs for .wales and .cymru attendees received instead.

.cymru is the Welsh name for Wales. The gTLDs are to be launched simultaneously.

Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones was given stage time to announce, in between anti-English quips, that the Welsh government is to dump .gov.uk in favor of the two new Welsh gTLDs.

Later, a Welsh male voice choir (presumably a famous one) took to the stage to sing a couple of songs and announce that they too are planning to use .wales and .cymru for their web sites.

Nominet chair Rennie Fritchie also plugged the upcoming launches during her five-minute slot.

You’d have been forgiven for wondering if you’d accidentally got off the plane in Cardiff.

Where was .london?

Did Dot London Domains seriously drop the ball here?

Or did .london’s absence have something to do with the fact that the host ccTLD and meeting sponsor, Nominet, is the registry for .wales and .cymru but was beaten to the .london back-end contract by Minds + Machines?

New gTLDs now outnumber the old TLDs

There are now more 2012-round new gTLDs alive on the internet than there are legacy TLDs.

With today’s addition of five new strings, including .brussels and .surf, there are now 312 delegated new gTLDs and 308 others in the DNS root zone file.

The legacy TLD count includes the original eight gTLDs such as .com and .gov, 285 ccTLDs (including 36 IDN ccTLDs), and 15 gTLDs added by ICANN in the 2000 and 2003 rounds.

With just shy of 1.2 million domains under management (including all the registry-reserved and freebies) the new gTLD program currently accounts for about 0.4% of all registered names.

About 140 new gTLDs are in general availability. The rest have been delegated but are either in sunrise periods or pre-sunrise periods.

ICANN smacks new gTLDs for pre-sunrise auctions

Running a premium domain name auction before you’ve finished your new gTLD sunrise period is Officially Not Cool, according to ICANN’s compliance department.

People who won premium new gTLD domains in auctions that took place before sunrise periods now face the possibility of losing their names to trademark owners.

.CLUB Domains, and probably XYZ.com, operators of .club and .xyz, two of the highest-volume new gTLDs to launch so far, appear to be affected by the ICANN decision.

ICANN told .CLUB that its “winter auction“, which took place in late February, may have violated the rules about allocating or “earmarking” domains to registrants before sunrise takes place.

Meanwhile, NameJet has cancelled the auction for deals.xyz, which “sold” for $8,100 late last year, suggesting that .xyz’s pre-sunrise auction is also considered ultra vires.

ICANN told .CLUB that its auction sales “constitute earmarking” in violation of the rule stating that registries “must not allow a domain name to be allocated or registered prior to the Sunrise period”.

.CLUB had told its auction winners that a sunrise period registration would prevent them from getting the domain they wanted and that they would be refunded if a sunrise registrant emerged.

But ICANN evidently told the registry:

Irrespective of whether “[a]llocation was expressly conditioned upon any Sunrise claim,” or whether any Sunrise claim was made, the pre-selection, pre-registration or pre-designation to third parties, in this case via .Club Domains’ “winter auction,” constitutes improper allocation.

I kinda thought this would happen.

Back in November, when XYZ.com ran its first .xyz auction — about six months before its sunrise even started — CEO Daniel Negari told us he believed it was “comfortably within the rules“.

We said the auction “seems to be operating at the edge of what is permissible under the new gTLD program’s rights protection mechanisms, which state that no domains may be allocated prior to Sunrise.”

I’ve not yet been able to definitively confirm that .xyz is affected by this ICANN decision, but .club definitely is.

.CLUB Domains told its auction winners today that the names they won are now subject to a 60-day period during which they could be obtained by trademark owners.

If no trademark owner claims the name, .CLUB said it will give the auction winner a 10% rebate on their purchase price.

The email states:

We are placing the domain on hold for 60 days, during which time a Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) holder will have the opportunity to purchase the domain at Sunrise rates. Although, the domain is not currently in the TMCH, if a trademark holder should file in the TMCH over the next 60 days, the domain will be offered to that registrant. However, if the name is not claimed by filing in the TMCH over the next 60 days, your transaction will move forward as planned.

Although we disagree with ICANN compliance’s position on this matter, the actions we are taking are necessary to ensure that we are not offside with ICANN compliance in any way. We understand that you have been caught in the middle of this issue due to no fault of your own. Given these circumstances, we are offering you two options:

1) Should you decide to complete this transaction, we will issue you a payment of 10% of the purchase price after the transaction closes in 60 days, assuming the name is not registered by a TMCH mark holder because of the delay.

2) At any time during the 60 day period you have the option to rescind the auction bid and not purchasing the domain.