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Rook Media acquires DomainSponsor

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2014, Domain Services

Oversee.net surprised many in the domainer community yesterday when it announced the sale of its flagship parking service, DomainSponsor, to upstart rival Rook Media.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, means Oversee, once the parent to brands such as Moniker and SnapNames, now barely has a presence in the domain name industry at all.

Switzerland-based Rook Media, describing itself as “Europe’s largest domain monetization platform”, was formed three years ago by former NameDrive and Sedo executives.

US-based DomainSponsor, on the other hand, has been around since 2002.

Rook CEO Ash Rahimi told Domain Name Wire yesterday that both platforms will operate independently for the foreseeable future.

Oversee said in a press release that it will “now focus on more aggressively developing its growth businesses” which comprise web sites in travel, consumer finance and retail.

The company sold off Moniker and SnapNames to KeyDrive in 2012. KeyDrive has since sold on SnapNames to Web.com.

Oversee still has the DomainFest conference listed as one of its brands on its web site. Other than that, there seems to be little left of its presence in the domain industry.

Over half a million Trademark Claims notices served

Kevin Murphy, March 25, 2014, Domain Services

The Trademark Clearinghouse has delivered over 500,000 Trademark Claims notices and prevented over 475,000 trademarked names from being registered, according to the TMCH.

The 500,000 number announced in a press release today seems to refer to pre-registration warnings that the name about to be registered matches a trademark in the TMCH database.

Three weeks ago the TMCH said it had served 17,500 post-registration notices to trademark owners in just one month. I’m inferring that this number is now up to over 25,000.

Half a million appears to be an awfully big number, especially when compared to the number of active domain names in new gTLDs, which today stands at just over 347,000.

The TMCH said today that 95% of these notices led to the name not being registered, which it said shows the success of the Claims system.

It could also mean that it’s having the “chilling effect” predicted by opponents of the process, with legitimate registrants being scared away from non-infringing uses of registered marks.

There are plenty of dictionary words in the Clearinghouse — some that match legitimate brands, some which are simply attempts to game sunrise periods and obtain potentially valuable names.

There are currently over 28,000 marks in the TMCH database.

Van Gelder rebrands to Milathan

Kevin Murphy, March 5, 2014, Domain Services

Domain name consultant Stephane Van Gelder has changed the name of his company from Stephane Van Gelder Consulting to Milathan.

The name, Van Gelder tells us, is a “derivative of words in Hindi that mean ‘union’ or ‘meeting’ in the sense of bringing people together”.

Milathan’s tagline will be “Internet Intelligence – Strategic Advice”.

Van Gelder is co-founder of the French registrar Indom but left in 2012 after the sale of the company to Group NBT in 2010.

TMCH sends out 17,500 Trademark Claims notices in a month

Kevin Murphy, March 3, 2014, Domain Services

Wow.

Just four weeks after the first new gTLDs went into general availability, the Trademark Clearinghouse has already sent out over 17,500 Trademark Claims notices to trademark owners.

A Claims notice is a warning that is generated whenever somebody registers a domain name that exactly matches a trademark listed in the TMCH’s database.

The 17,500 number refers to post-registration notices sent to trademark owners, not pre-registration warnings delivered to would-be registrants.

Considering that there are somewhere in the region of 180,000 domain names in new gTLDs today, 17,500 represents a surprisingly high percentage of the market (high single figures).

Of course, not all of these will be due to cybersquatting attempts.

There are plenty of marks in the TMCH that are acronyms or dictionary words, either because they match a genuine brand or because somebody obtained trademarks on generic terms in order to game sunrise periods.

I’d count those as false positives, personally, but it’s impossible to know without access to TMCH data how many of the 17,500 alerts delivered to date can be accounted for in that way.

There are 26,802 marks in the TMCH, according to the company.

Fifth URDP provider goes live

Kevin Murphy, February 25, 2014, Domain Services

The Arab Center for Dispute Resolution has gone live as the fifth approved provider of UDRP dispute resolution services.

The Jordan-based outfit, which says it has offices in “all Arab countries”, says it “is uniquely positioned to address domain name issues pertinent to the region, while maintaining an international, multicultural disposition to case settlement.”

ACDR was approved by ICANN to administer UDRP cases last May, over the objections of the Internet Commerce Association and others, which want UDRP providers bound to ICANN contracts.

The organization does not appear to be competing hard on price. A single-domain case will set trademark owners back a minimum of $1,500 ($1,000 to the panel, $500 to ACDR), which is the same as market leader WIPO.

It’s actually a little more expensive than WIPO — a five-domain case will cost $1,700 compared to WIPO’s $1,500.

Track new gTLD growth on DI PRO

Kevin Murphy, February 6, 2014, Domain Services

DI PRO subscribers from today can track daily changes in new gTLD registration volumes.

The New gTLD Zone File Report is a simple, sortable table showing how each new gTLD has performed over the last 24 hours.

It’s the database I’ve been using for DI’s analysis of Donuts’ landrush numbers over the last week, but I’ve received a few requests to make the data available in a more structured way.

DI PRO

The data is also being incorporated into the next TLD Health Check update too, enabling longer-term views and interactive charts. More on that in due course.

DI PRO subscribers also receive access to the New gTLD Application Tracker, a calendar of crucial new gTLD launch dates, the New gTLD Collisions Database and many more useful services.

Scottish gTLD may launch before independence vote

Kevin Murphy, January 27, 2014, Domain Services

The application for .scot, a new gTLD for Scottish people, is ahead of schedule and is likely to launch before the nation heads to voting booths for an independence referendum later this year.

Glasgow-based applicant Dot Scot Registry signed its ICANN Registry Agreement on January 23. That’s despite having a processing priority number way down the pile at 1,453.

The company had previously expected that it would launch in “early 2015”, according to a press release. Now it’s hoping to launch before the Commonwealth Games kicks off, also in Glasgow, on July 23.

If .scot moves as quickly through the remaining stages of the application process as other registries have, it could be delegated in late March, meaning general availability could come as early as June.

This means the domain is likely to be in the hands of Scots and those of Scottish heritage before the landmark independence referendum, which is set for September 18 this year.

The vote will see Scots asked “Should Scotland be an independent country?”. If the majority says “yes”, Scotland would withdraw from the United Kingdom and become fully self-governing.

Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, said in the press release:

2014 is an exciting year for Scotland, and I’m delighted that this distinct online identity for the nation, and all who take an interest in Scotland, will become available this summer.

If Scotland does become the world’s newest formally recognized country, it will be eligible for its own two-character ccTLD too.

The string would be designated by the International Standards Organization and is not likely to be particularly meaningful. The only two-character strings remaining that begin with S are .sf, .sp, .sq and .sw.

The process of obtaining a ccTLD would also take at least a year after (if) Scotland is recognized by the United Nations as an independent nation, which wouldn’t be until at least 2016.

Whatever happens, .scot is going to see the light of day well before any potential Scottish ccTLD, perhaps making it the .com to the country’s .us over the long term.

DomainFest to return in March

Kevin Murphy, January 24, 2014, Domain Services

The DomainFest conference has confirmed its return for 2014.

The ninth annual show in the series is going back to the name DomainFest, having dabbled with a change to WebFest.

Organizers say the conference is “is dedicated to bridging the gap between domain name industry, online advertising, affiliates, social media and mobile.”

The agenda is split into three tracks: mobile, monetization and “gTLDs and registrars”, which seems to have a heavy focus on new gTLDs.

It will be held at the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles from March 31 to April 2.

Prices for early bird registration are currently $695, with a $30 booking fee, rising to $995 on February 14 and then to $1,495 on the door.

Right Of The Dot partners with Heritage for hybrid auctions

Kevin Murphy, January 15, 2014, Domain Services

Domain sales consultancy Right Of The Dot and collectibles auctioneer Heritage Auctions have made a deal to bring hybrid live/online auctions to the new gTLD space.

According to a ROTD press release, such services will be made available for new gTLD contention set resolution and premium second-level domain sales.

Heritage is pretty new to the domain name space, but its IP division is headed by Aron Meystedt, current owner of symbolics.com, the world’s oldest .com domain.

TLDH opens up list of 70,000 premium names for all new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, January 14, 2014, Domain Services

Top Level Domain Holdings has ramped up its new gTLD pre-registration effort with a new database service that enables registries to automatically collate and price their premium names.

The new OpenDB.co service builds on the Online Priority Enhanced Names system we reported on during the ICANN meeting in Buenos Aires a couple months ago.

TLDH chairman Fred Krueger told DI today that new gTLD registry operators will be able to automatically generate a list of up to 70,000 premium names — with associated prices — for their TLD(s).

It works using a proprietary taxonomy of strings in 500 categories, put together by about 30 people working for TLDH, and baseline .com pricing estimates calculated by various online tools such as Estibot.

If you’re the registry for .web, for example, you might decide that all premium .web domains are worth 50% of the .com price, and you could create your premium names list accordingly with just a few clicks.

But if you’re the registry for a narrower, niche gTLD, you might want to assign values by category, subcategory or individual name.

If you’re .poker, you might decide that names in the OpenDB “gambling” category are worth 300% of .com, due to the affinity between the TLD and the second level, and that “sports” names are worth 50%, but everything else is worth just 1% of the corresponding .com name.

A possible drawback of the system might be that the algorithmic .com price estimates underlying it are just that — estimates, based on factors such as Google search volume and Adwords cost-per-click.

Online tools that do this kind of price estimation are quite often criticized or mocked for under- or over-pricing names in existing TLDs.

Another drawback might be that while 70,000 is certainly a lot of strings, it might not dive deeply enough into the potential premium pool for very niche gTLDs.

If the service catches on, I expect it will wind up competing with consultancies that offer expertise-based pricing, such as Right Of The Dot, and brokerage platforms such as Sedo.

So far only PeopleBrowsr (.ceo, .best) has openly committed to use the system.

TLDH says that it will start offering any names in OpenDB via its affiliated Minds + Machines registrar, with a 20% markup.

There’s also an OpenDB API that registrars can use to add these premium names to their own storefronts, Krueger said.