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Trademark Clearinghouse to get tested out on three existing TLDs

Kevin Murphy, April 6, 2013, Domain Services

Three already-live TLDs are going to use the Trademark Clearinghouse to handle sunrise periods, possibly before the first new gTLDs launch.

BRS Media is set to use the TMCH, albeit indirectly, in its launch of third-level domains under .radio.am and .radio.fm, which it plans to launch soon as a budget alternative to .am and .fm.

The company has hired TM.Biz, the trademark validation firm affiliated with EnCirca, to handle its sunrise, and TM.biz says it will allow brand owners to leverage Clearinghouse records.

Trademark owners will be able to submit raw trademarks for validation as in previous sunrises, but TM.Biz will also allow them to submit Signed Mark Data (SMD) files, if they have them, instead.

Encrypted SMD files are created by the TMCH after validation, so the trademarks and the strings they represent are pre-validated.

There’ll presumably be some cost benefit of using SMD files, but pricing has not yet been disclosed.

Separately, Employ Media said today that it’s getting ready to enter the final stage of its .jobs liberalization, opening up the gTLD to essentially any string and essentially any registrant.

The company will also use the TMCH for its sunrise period, according to an ICANN press release, though the full details and timing have not yet been announced.

Unusually, .jobs is a gTLD that hasn’t already had a sunrise — its original business model only allowed vetted company-name registrations.

The TMCH is already accepting submissions from trademark owners, but it’s not yet integrated with registries and registrars.

Right Of The Dot gets legal opinion: new gTLD auctions not illegal

Kevin Murphy, April 4, 2013, Domain Services

Right Of The Dot, one of the companies hoping to offer contention set resolution services to new gTLD applicants, has published a legal opinion arguing that auctions are not inherently illegal.

The document was issued in response to Uniregistry’s claim that the US Department of Justice has refused to give auctions a green light under antitrust law.

ROTD hired the law firm Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, including a partner with DoJ experience, to draft the statement.

It’s aimed at lawyers, primarily, but the gist of it is that simply participating in an auction is not illegal in and of itself — participants would have to collude in some other way too.

It states:

The finding of an antitrust violation necessarily would depend on a showing that the private auction unreasonably restrained interstate trade or commerce.

The question comes down to the conduct of the parties to an auction, be it a private auction or an ICANN Last Resort Auction.

If the parties to an auction, engage in collusion such as price fixing and/or bid rigging, it constitute per se violations of Section 1 of the Sherman Act.

It’s not the auction provider that creates a violation it’s the action of the parties to an auction and those actions can take place in an ICANN Last Resort auction.

In other words, there’s no difference between an ICANN-run auction, in which ICANN gets paid, and a private auction in which the participants and the auctioneer get paid, according to these lawyers.

Uniregistry’s argument as I understand it, on the other hand, is that simply participating in an action that could constitute illegal collusion, because ICANN ends up out of pocket.

Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

I think the only person who could answer that, in light of the DoJ’s refusal to intervene, would be a judge. We’re unlikely to get an answer unless somebody sues somebody.

NameJet and Afternic sign another gTLD launch

Kevin Murphy, April 3, 2013, Domain Services

NameJet and Afternic will provide launch auctions and premium name distribution for the .build gTLD, should it be approved, the two companies have announced.

The deal was inked with applicant Plan Bee LLC, which is affiliated with Minardos Group, a construction company.

The two companies will handle auctions under the sunrise and landrush phases, according to a press release.

It’s the second such deal to be announced by the Afternic/Namejet partnership to date, after WhatBox’s .menu. The companies are also working with Directi’s .pw registry.

Plan Bee has also applied for .expert and .construction, but these are both contested so there’s less certainty that they’ll end up approved.

The applicant reckons it will be able to bring .build to market in the fourth quarter of this year.

With a prioritization number of 1,049 in ICANN’s queue, this may prove optimistic, depending on how the remaining portions of the program — such as predelegation testing and contracting — pan out.

First seven TMCH agents approved

Kevin Murphy, April 2, 2013, Domain Services

The Trademark Clearinghouse has listed its first seven approved trademark submission agents.

These are the companies that are able to secure bulk discounts for submitted marks to the TMCH.

The first seven are NetNames, Corporation Service Company, SafeNames, MailClub, Key-Systems, Net-Chinese, which are all domain registrars too, and the Law Offices of S.J. Christine Yang, which isn’t.

Holders of large trademark portfolios are also allowed to become agents in their own right, but most TMCH submissions are expected to be carried out via these third parties.

The full list is here.

The cost of submitting trademarks, if you’re an agent, can be worked out using the TMCH Cost Calculator.

Trademark Clearinghouse lowers prices

Kevin Murphy, March 21, 2013, Domain Services

The Deloitte-managed Trademark Clearinghouse has slashed its bulk submission prices in response to feedback from registrars.

A newly revised TMCH price list leaves the basic fees of $145 to $95 per mark per year untouched, but makes it much easier for large trademark owners and brand protection companies to qualify for discounts.

The system for securing bulk discounts is based on “Status Points” that accumulate as trademarks are submitted, with five pricing tiers available.

The changes mean submission agents need to rack up 1,000 points in order to become eligible for the first discount tier, instead of 3,000. The cheapest tier is accessible at 90,000 points instead of 100,000.

The TMCH has also doubled the number of bonus points awarded for submitting trademarks during the “early bird” phase, which runs until the first new gTLD sunrise period begins, making it easier to hit discount milestones.

TMCH Cost CalculatorAccording to the Trademark Clearinghouse Cost Calculator, which has been updated with the new numbers, savings could be substantial.

For example, a submission agent that submits 10,000 marks for five-year registrations during the early bird period will pay $5,232,125, which is $742,950 cheaper than under the old pricing scheme.

That would be an average cost of $104.64 per mark per year, compared to $119.50 under the old regime.

A listing in the TMCH is a prerequisite if a trademark owner wants to participate in new gTLD sunrise periods or take advantage of the Trademark Claims cybersquatting alert service.

We gather that the price reductions came largely as a result of feedback from registrars that plan to act as submission agents, rather than from trademark owners themselves.

New hires at Donuts, DomainDiction and 101domain

Kevin Murphy, March 14, 2013, Domain Services

It’s been a busy week in the industry for executive switcheroos, with Donuts, DomainDiction and 101domain all announcing senior-level hires.

Today it emerged that Elaine Pruis, a long-time key member of the Minds + Machines team, has jumped to rival new gTLD applicant Donuts, where she’s now director of operations.

That’s quite a surprising move, coming so soon before gTLDs start getting delegated and — perhaps more importantly — contention set resolution deadlines start closing in.

DomainDiction, the gTLD-focused PR agency, has meanwhile lost one top expert and gained two others.

Pinky Brand, an alum of .mobi, Verisign and Iron Mountain, has gone solo, launching his own consulting business under the name [ PINKY ] • BRAND.

Former NetNames strategy director Stephane Van Gelder, an occasional DI guest poster, has been brought on as lobbyist and copywriter, while IP lawyer Bart Lieben has been hired for his considerable expertise in sunrise periods.

Neither man is on DomainDiction’s exclusive payroll, and continue to have other projects.

Finally, 101domain yesterday announced that it’s hired Joe Alagna as head of channel development. Alagna until recently worked in the registry world, as CentralNic’s general manager for North America.

Two more gTLD bids kicked out of the program, but .kids gets ICANN funding

Kevin Murphy, March 12, 2013, Domain Services

Two more applications have been rejected from the new gTLD program, after they tried and failed to have their application fees subsidized by ICANN’s Applicant Support Program.

Three gTLDs were submitted for financial assistance, but ICANN’s Support Application Review Panel, delivering its results (pdf) today, decided that only one of them qualified for a cheapo bid.

DotKids Foundation Ltd, which is applying for .kids, is the lucky recipient of $138,000 worth of waived application fees. Its application now enters Initial Evaluation.

The applicants for .ummah (Ummah Digital Ltd) and .idn (NameShop), on the other hand, have been given a refund of the $47,000 application fee they paid and politely shown the door.

ICANN said: “applications that did not meet the threshold criteria for financial assistance will be excluded from further participation in this round of the New gTLD Program”.

That rule was introduced to prevent gaming — companies that asked for cheaper applications risked losing their applications if they failed to meet the requirements for support.

It doesn’t mean there was anything wrong with their gTLD applications, however.

The approval of funding for the DotKids Foundation is goodish news for people uncomfortable with Amazon’s closed gTLD land-grab — the retailer is the only other applicant for .kids.

While the .kids contention set remains, is pretty safe to say that Amazon will be able to utterly crucify its competition if the TLD goes to auction.

TLD Health Check from DI is the first business intelligence tool for the new gTLD era

Kevin Murphy, March 11, 2013, Domain Services

DI today introduces TLD Health Check, an industry-first business intelligence service that enables users to quickly and easily monitor the performance of top-level domains.

TLD Health Check is software as a service. It allows anyone to not only track the growth of gTLDs new and old, but also to compare TLD popularity and abuse levels across the industry.

TLD Health Check is launching with 27 interactive charts and tables that make it simple for users to:

  • TLD Health Check screenshotMonitor the growth of gTLD registries. gTLD growth (or shrinkage) can be tracked against multiple criteria including domains under management, newly added domains, renewals and deleted domains. Based on official registry reports, the service also dynamically calculates metrics such as average registration periods, enabling users to gauge registrant confidence in each gTLD’s relevance and longevity.
  • Rank TLDs by popularity. TLDs can have lots of domains, but which TLDs are being visited most often by regular internet users? TLD Health Check aggregates TLD data from Alexa’s list of the top one million most-popular domain names, to figure out which TLDs web surfers actually use on a daily basis.
  • Compare abusive activity across 300+ TLDs. TLD Health Check calculates TLD abuse data from several major third-party malware and phishing domain lists, letting you instantly compare abuse levels between every live TLD.
  • Track cybersquatting levels by TLD. Drawing on a database of over 75,000 UDRP decisions, TLD Health Check lets you compare TLDs to see where the major cybersquatting enforcement is happening. DI PRO’s intelligent algorithms allow you to see only successful UDRP cases.
  • TLD Health Check screenshotMeasure registrar market share. Different registrars excel at selling different TLDs. TLD Health Check measures registrar growth and ranks companies by their market share in each TLD.
  • (Coming Soon) Monitor secondary market activity. Leveraging a database of tens of thousands of reported domain name sales, you can see where the secondary market action is.

The services is built on top of a massive database, over two years in the making, comprising hundreds of thousands of records dating back to 1999. Our data sets are updated hourly, daily, weekly and monthly.

Get Access

TLD Health Check screenshotTLD Health Check is currently in open subscriber beta, and we have an aggressive program of weekly feature upgrades and additions planned for the next few months.

The service can be accessed now by DI PRO subscribers, for no additional charge.

If you’re not already a PRO subscriber, please visit our subscriptions page to sign up for instant access.

New Monthly Subscription Option

To coincide with the launch of TLD Health Check, and in response to many reader requests, today we’re also announcing a new monthly subscription option for DI PRO.

Not only that, but any new subscriptions processed before March 15 will receive a perpetual $10-per-month discount if the subscriber uses the discount code NYC when subscribing.

DI is attending the Digital Marketing & gTLD Strategy Congress in New York today and tomorrow. Fellow attendees are welcome to request an in-person TLD Health Check demo.

Architelos runs new gTLD market readiness survey

Kevin Murphy, February 13, 2013, Domain Services

New gTLD consultancy/software provider Architelos is carrying out a survey of new gTLD applicants in an effort to gauge how ready they are to launch.

The company is of the view that many applicants are under-prepared for the amount of work coming down the pike when they finally pass through ICANN’s long-running evaluation process.

The five-minute Q&A covers areas such as financial planning, compliance, hiring and launch marketing.

It’s also a way for Architelos to prospect for potential customers, though responses can be anonymous if desired.

If you’re an applicant, you can participate in the survey here.

Google, L’Oreal execs tapped for new gTLD summit

Kevin Murphy, February 11, 2013, Domain Services

Executives from Google, L’Oreal and The Boston Globe have been lined up to speak at the new gTLD marketing conference taking placing New York next month.

Hal Bailey, director of Google’s domains business, will speak on the panel “Domains in 2015, 2020, 2025: A View of the dot Future” at the Digital Marketing & gTLD Strategy Congress, according to organizers.

L’Oreal’s chief digital officer has dropped out of the conference, but he has been replaced by Brigitte King, senior vice president of the company’s digital business.

L’Oreal and Google are two of the new gTLD applicants currently under fire for applying for so-called “closed generic” gTLDs, which could make for some interesting discussions.

King will chair the conference and deliver a keynote entitled “The L’Oreal Story: Building Beauty Brands with Digital, Data and Direct Relationships”. L’Oreal has applied for 13 new gTLDs.

The Boston Globe, which has applied for .boston, is sending Jeff Moriarty, it vice president for digital products, and industry IP lawyer Bart Lieben to talk about the newspaper’s plans for the gTLD.

Momentum Consulting, which is organization the dot-brand focused event, says it has 80 confirmed attendees and is on target to have more than its expected 120 by the time ticket sales close.

DI will also be in attendance. I’m hosting a fireside chat with ICANN’s Sally Costerton, head of stakeholder relations.

The conference runs March 11-12 in New York City.