GMO Registry and Radix have won Chinese government approval for their respective new gTLDs .shop and .site.
It’s the second batch of foreign new gTLDs to get the nod from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, following .vip, .club and .xyz in early December.
They’re also the first two Asian registries from outside China to get the right to flog their domains in China — GMO is Japanese and Radix is UAE-based with Indian roots.
Their new Chinese government licenses mean Chinese registrars will now be able to allow their customers to actually use .shop and .site domains to host web sites.
The registries in turn have had to agree to enforce China’s rather arbitrary and Draconian censorship policies on their Chinese customers.
The approvals were announced by MIIT December 29.
.site currently has about 570,000 domains in its zone file, making it a top-10 new gTLD by volume, while .shop, which launched much more recently, has over 100,000.
The ability for Chinese customers to develop their domains is no doubt good for the long-term health of TLDs, but it’s not necessarily a harbinger of shorter-term growth in a market where domains are often treated little more than meaningless baseball cards to be traded rather than commodities with intrinsic value.
Donuts has delayed the price increases coming to its trademark-blocking service and extended availability of the “plus” version for three more months.
Domain Protected Marks List Plus, which lets companies block brands and variations such as typos and brand+keywords across Donuts stable of 200ish TLDs, will now be available until March 31.
The price hike for vanilla DPML, which does not include the variant-blocking, has also been delayed until the end of January, the registry said.
Both deadlines were previously December 31.
DPML Plus, which grants 10-year blocks on one trademark and three variants in every Donuts TLD, has a recommended retail price of $9,999.
Retail prices for the plain DPML are reportedly going up from $2,500 per string to $4,400 for a five-year block at one registrar when the price rise kicks in. That’s a 76% increase.
Afilias’ .mobi is to become the latest of the pre-2012 gTLDs to agree to adopt the Uniform Rapid Suspension policy in exchange for lower ICANN fees.
Its Registry Agreement is up for renewal, and Afilias and ICANN have come to similar terms to .jobs, .travel, .cat, .pro and .xxx.
Afilias has agreed to take on many of the provisions of the standard new gTLD RA that originally did not apply to gTLDs approved in the 2000 and 2003 rounds, including the URS.
In exchange, its fixed registry fees will go down from $50,000 a year to $25,000 a year and the original price-linked variable fee of $0.15 to $0.75 per transaction will be replaced with the industry standard $0.25.
It’s peanuts really, given that .mobi still has about 690,000 domains, but Afilias is getting other concessions too.
Notably, the ludicrous mirage that .mobi was a “Sponsored” gTLD serving a specific restricted community (users of mobile telephones, really) rather than an obvious gaming of the 2003-round application rules, looks like it’s set to evaporate.
Appendix S to the current RA is not being carried over, ICANN said, so .mobi will not become a “Community” gTLD, with all the attendant restrictions that would have entailed.
Instead, Afilias has simply agreed to the absolute basic set of Public Interest Commitments that apply to all 2012 new gTLDs. Text that would have committed the registry to abide by the promises made in its gTLD application have been removed.
But the change likely to get the most hackles up is the inclusion of URS in the proposed new contract.
URS is an anti-cybserquatting measure that enables trademark owners to shut down infringing domains, without taking ownership, more quickly and cheaply than the UDRP.
It’s obligatory for all 2012-round gTLDs, and five of the pre-2012 registries have also agreed to adopt it during their contract renewal talks with ICANN.
Most recently, ICM Registry agreed to URS in exchange for much deeper cuts in its ICANN fees in .xxx.
In recent days, ICANN published its report into the public comments on the .xxx renewal, summarizing some predictably irate feedback.
Domainer group the Internet Commerce Association, which is concerned that URS will one day be forced upon .com and .net, had a .xxx comment that seems particularly pertinent to the .mobi news:
Given the history of flimsy and self-serving justifications by [Global Domains Division] staff and the ICANN Board for similar actions taken in 2015, we are under no illusion that this comment letter will likely be successful in effecting removal of the URS and other new gTLD RA provisions from the revised .XXX RA. Nonetheless, we strenuously object to this GDD action that intrudes upon and debases ICANN’s legitimate policymaking process, and urge the GDD and Board to reconsider their positions, and to ensure that GDD staff ceases and desists from taking similar action in the context of future RA renewals and revisions until the RPM Review WG renders the community’s judgment as to whether the URS and other new gTLD RPMs should become Consensus Policy and such recommendation is reviewed by GNSO Council and the ICANN Board.
The Intellectual Property Constituency of the GNSO, conversely, broadly welcomed the addition of more rights protection mechanisms to .xxx.
The Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group, meanwhile, expressed concern that whenever ICANN negotiates a non-consensus policy into a contract it negates and discourages all the work done by the volunteer community.
You can read the summary of the .xxx comments, along with ICANN staff’s reasons for ignoring them, here (pdf).
The .mobi proposed amendments are also now open for public comment.
Any lawyers wishing to rack up a few billable hours railing against a fait accompli can do so here.
Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi has told ICANN it no longer wishes to operate one of its dot-brand gTLDs.
The company has filed a termination notice covering its .mtpc domain, which stands for Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation.
The gTLD was delegated in February 2015, but Mitsubishi has never put it to use.
Registry reports show only two names ever appeared in the .mtpc space.
It’s the 19th gTLD from the 2012 round to voluntarily self-terminate — or to allow ICANN to terminate it — after signing a Registry Agreement.
All terminated gTLDs so far have been dot-brands.
Mitsubishi also owns .mitsubishi. That dot-brand appeared earlier this year but also has not yet been put to use.
Struggling infrastructure services firm and domain registry Neustar is set to go private in a $2.9 billion deal.
The company, best known for .biz, .co and .us, has agreed to be bought out by a group led by Golden Gate Capital.
The $33.50-per-share offer, announced on Wednesday and which Neustar’s board has approved, is a 45% premium over the closing price the day before Golden Gate first disclosed it had a stake.
That’s still hell and gone from the roughly $45 the shares were trading for a few years ago, before the company first raised concerns that its lucrative number portability deal with the US government was on the ropes.
Since it became apparent that the numbering contract, which accounts for about half of Neustar’s revenue, was at risk, the company has attempted to focus its efforts on marketing services, security and domains.
That effort included the $87 million acquisition of registry rival Bombora (owner of ARI and AusRegistry) last year.
Earlier this year, the company announced its intention to split into two, basically spinning off all of its businesses not exposed to the US government contract.
It’s not entirely clear whether that plan will be followed through, but Neustar can no doubt be expected to go through some significant restructuring under new ownership. Golden Gate et al are not altruists, after all.
Neustar has 30 days to consider better offers from other white knights, under the terms of the deal.
If ultimately given the final rubber stamp, the deal may still not close until the third quarter of 2017, Neustar said.