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Our unpredictions for 2014

Kevin Murphy, January 2, 2014, Domain Services

Over the close to four years we’ve been publishing, DI has so far resisted running annual prediction lists.

As a reader, they always strike me as being largely holiday-period filler guff. As a writer, they kind of obligate you to revisit and score yourself a year later. Hugely embarrassing pain in the bum.

But this year we’ve had a change of heart.

It’s really, really quiet out there today.

So here’s our list of events we think will definitely, definitely, definitely happen in 2014.

  • Bob Parsons will give ten bucks to a homeless guy outside a Scottsdale Starbucks, according to a Go Daddy press release.
  • NomCom, hands tied by its gender quotas policy, will be forced to appoint a minor Kardashian to the ICANN board of directors.
  • Pat Kane will quit Verisign in order to head up kp.com, the newly launched sub-domain service for North Koreans who couldn’t get the .kp name they really wanted.
  • A pseudonymous domainer will send TLDH’s share price into a death spiral by predicting that “all new gltds will fail lol” in a comment on an industry blog.
  • Tucows CEO Elliot Noss will accidentally blind four people during a particularly enthusiastic bout of gesticulation.
  • An ICANN director will answer Paul Foody’s question during the Public Forum in Singapore. Foody will leave the room moments later, never to be seen again.
  • Somebody will write a blog post about 27-year-old .xyz applicant Daniel Negari without mentioning his age.
  • ICANN will blame a “glitch” after accidentally delegating .islam to a New York synagogue.
  • Mike Berkens will use apostrophes correctly for a week straight.
  • After the GNSO dies for the fifth time, the entire Council will regenerate as Peter Capaldi, forcing an immediate structural review.
  • 1&1 will start selling pre-registrations in new gTLDs that it expects will probably be applied for at some point between 2018 and 2024.
  • Fox will green-light the production of “Jeff Neuman vs Predator”.
  • DotConnectAfrica will finally withdraw its application for .africa, but only after failed attempts to withdraw applications for .africas, .africka, and .dotdotafrica.
  • Christine Jones will suffer a humiliating wardrobe malfunction during a campaign rally.
  • A smartphone-friendly version of DI will be launched.
  • During an unannounced visit to ICANN’s LA office, Fadi Chehade will stumble across John Jeffrey fucking an apple pie in the staff kitchen.
  • Jennifer Wolfe will speak during a GNSO Council meeting.
  • The Intellectual Property Constituency will complain that ICANN’s latest rights protection mechanisms “go too far to protect trademark owners” and demand an immediate rollback.
  • Rick Schwartz will invest $200 million in Donuts.
  • The sentence “Esther Dyson declined to comment.” will appear in a mainstream media article about new gTLDs.

Happy new year everyone!

Today’s new gTLD passes, signings and withdrawals

Kevin Murphy, December 23, 2013, Domain Services

ICANN signed 21 new gTLD registry contracts late last week, while one applicant has withdrawn and another has passed evaluation.

First, Donuts has pulled out of its two-way contest for .global, leaving the path clear for CloudNames to be awarded the gTLD, which is to be an open-registration generic.

I gather that the contention set was settled in a rare example of a privately negotiated deal, rather than an auction, involving Donuts.

On Thursday, several applicants signed Registry Agreements with ICANN.

Famous Four Media, which applied for 60 strings, signed its first RA, for .bid.

Fellow portfolio applicant Top Level Domain Holdings signed for .miami, .country, .work, .vodka and .rodeo; Donuts got .supplies, .supply and .商店 (“shop”) and Top Level Spectrum got .feedback.

PeopleBrowsr contracted for .best and .kred and Punto 2012 got .rest (for “restaurant” and its many non-English variants).

In dot-brands, World Trade Centers Association got .wtc, Sohu.com got .sohu, Frogans got .frogans, AXA got .axa and Brazilian media conglomerate Globo got .globo.

In geographic strings, PointQuebec got .quebec, while FAITID got .moscow and its Cyrllic IDN equivalent .москва.

Finally, on Friday ICANN passed Bosch Rexroth’s dot-brand application for .rexroth through Extended Evaluation.

NamesCon ticket winners selected

Kevin Murphy, December 16, 2013, Domain Services

Over the weekend we randomly selected the five winners of free tickets to the NamesCon conference.

To enter, all you had to do was leave a comment answering the question:

What’s the best way to explain the benefits of new gTLDs to somebody from outside the domain industry?

The prizes are free conference passes to NamesCon, which runs at the Tropicana hotel in Las Vegas from January 13 to 15.

The winners were picked using the random number generator at Random.org. By screen name, they are:

  1. JS
  2. Tony C
  3. Nic Steinbach
  4. Adam Strong
  5. Pat

They will be all contacted via email by DI today to arrange for ticket delivery.

Many thanks to everyone who participated. There were some interesting answers in there.

No costs to registries from TM Claims extension

Kevin Murphy, December 13, 2013, Domain Services

New gTLD registries will not have to pay any extra fees due to the Trademark Clearinghouse’s extension of the Trademark Claims service, according to the the TMCH.

When the TMCH announced a few days ago that it planned to extend Claims indefinitely — beyond the 90 days required by ICANN contract — a couple of gTLD registries asked me if it would mean more costs for them.

According to the TMCH, the answer is “no”.

The TMCH said in a statement (with my emphasis):

no additional costs will be charged to the registries

The Clearinghouse will create an extra interface that works separately from the existing trademark database interface for the 90 days Claims Notifications (during these 90 days registries have to pay 0.25 USD per registration when there is a successful registration matching a mark in the Clearinghouse). The 90+ interface will charge no such fee when there is an exact match.

The TMCH plans to use other means, such as scraping zone files, to provide the extended service.

TMCH extends Trademark Claims indefinitely, kinda

Kevin Murphy, December 11, 2013, Domain Services

The Trademark Clearinghouse is to give the intellectual property lobby something that it’s been crying out for for years — an indefinite extension of parts of the Trademark Claims service.

And it’s going to be free.

Trademark Claims is a mandatory service for all new gTLD operators, sending pre-registration warnings to registrants and post-registration alerts to mark owners whenever a domain matching a trademark is registered.

But it only runs for 90 days, per the ICANN new gTLD contracts, which TMCH project director Jan Corstens said is IP owners’ “number one complaint” about the system.

So the TMCH is going to extend the post-registration alerts half of the service indefinitely.

When the first new gTLDs officially end their Claims periods next year, the TMCH will continue to send out alerts to mark owners (or, in 90% of cases, their registrar “agents”) when matching domains are registered.

Would-be registrants will only receive their pre-registration warnings for the original 90-day period.

Corstens said that the pre-registration side of Claims would only be possible with the cooperation of registries and registrars, and that there’s a lot of reluctance to help out.

“A lot of them are not really interested in doing that,” he said. “I understand it takes work, and I understand they think it could demotivate potential registrants.”

Trademark owners that have directly registered with the Clearinghouse, rather than going through an agent, will get the extended service for no added charge.

However, Corstens made it clear that the TMCH is not trying to compete with registrars — such as MarkMonitor and Melbourne IT — that already offer zone file monitoring services to trademark owners.

“We know the market exists,” he said. “It’s not our intention to become a monopoly. We will deliver it to them, of course, and assume they can integrate with it.”

Agents will be able to plug the service into their existing products if they wish, he said.

There are a few initial limitations with the new TMCH service such that its registrar agents may not find it particularly labor-saving.

First, only domains that exactly match labels in the Clearinghouse will generate alerts.

By contrast, brand-monitoring registrars typically generate alerts when the trademark is a substring of the domain. To carry on doing this they’ll need to carry on monitoring zone files anyway.

Second, the TMCH service only currently covers new gTLDs applied for in the 2012 round. It doesn’t cover .com, for example, or any other legacy gTLD.

Corstens said both of these limitations may be addressed in future releases. The first Trademark Claims period isn’t due to end until March, so there’s time to make changes, he said.

He added that he hopes the extension of Claims will lead to an uptick in the the number of trademarks being registered in the TMCH. Currently there are about 20,000.