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Blow to domainers as Arab center approved to settle cybersquatting disputes

Kevin Murphy, May 22, 2013, Domain Services

ICANN has approved a new UDRP resolution provider, the first to be based in the Arab region, despite the objections of domainers.

The Arab Center for Dispute Resolution will now be able to service UDRP complaints. But it won’t be bound to an ICANN contract, as had been demanded by the Internet Commerce Association and others.

The ACDR was approved by the ICANN board last week, almost three years after it originally applied for the privilege.

The board said in its rationale that the move would be good for geographic diversity and that its rigorous community review process highlighted community accountability.

On the issue of UDRP provider contracts, it merely noted:

commenters suggested that ICANN develop contracts with each of its UDRP providers as a means to require uniformity among providers. Contracts have never been required of UDRP providers.

the proposal now includes an affirmative recognition that if ICANN imposes further requirements on providers, the ACDR will follow those requirements

The ACDR will come as a knock to the ICA, which recently celebrated the fact that ICANN intends to have formal contracts with providers of Uniform Rapid Suspension services.

Fly9 offers services to simplify new gTLD sales

Kevin Murphy, May 20, 2013, Domain Services

Portland-based developer Fly9 launched last week, offering new gTLD registries a broad range of software designed to make it easier to sell domain names.

The company, founded by SnapNames and Afilias alum Ravi Surya, hopes its platform will help new gTLD operators tap into registrars’ customer bases in a soon-to-be-flooded market.

“The problem with new TLDs is they’ll all depend on registrars, but the registrars are all busy selling other things, like hosting, they’re not interested in selling your TLD,” Surya said.

For a start-up, only just coming out of stealth mode, three-year-old Fly9 seems to have an awful lot of products with an awful lot of features, judging by a quick demo we saw last week.

Perhaps most interesting is the core TLD Distribution Platform. It’s a software service designed to plug the gap between the registry back-end and the registrar/reseller and simplify channel management.

The idea is to make it easier for newbie registry operators to leverage registrars’ marketing clout, but without asking the registrar to do a lot of technical integration work.

Say you’ve been awarded .pumpkins by ICANN. It’s a niche TLD and registrars — spoiled for choice in a world of 500 new gTLDs — aren’t exactly clamoring to sign up to offer it.

Fly9’s service would enable you to give these registrars a way to very quickly start selling .pumpkin domains, using their own registrar accreditation and payment systems but using Fly9’s hosted, white-label microsite.

According to Surya, registry managers can use the service to sign up registrars as little as five minutes. Adding branding and customizing the site for the registrar would obviously take longer.

Registries can also elect to use Fly9’s partner registrar, NameSystem, and create a channel of resellers instead.

The Fly9 suite also includes services for handling pre-registrations, sunrise periods, and premium domain auctions and Surya said the service can also handle EPP extensions for restricted gTLDs.

Pricing is based on transaction volume, but the software has already been licensed to two major back-end registry technical providers, which Surya said he could not yet name.

LogicBoxes and Architelos are among those offering software services for new gTLD management, but I’d be hard pressed to think of another company doing precisely what Fly9 is right now.

URS providers to get contracts

Kevin Murphy, May 13, 2013, Domain Services

The companies handling Uniform Rapid Suspension domain name disputes will be bound to a contract, ICANN has said.

In a follow-up Q&A document (pdf) from the public forum session at the ICANN meeting in Beijing last month, posted Friday, ICANN said:

As regards Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) providers, will there be a contract developed that goes beyond the non-enforceable memorandum of understanding? Will there be other URS providers?

Yes, a contract is being developed and additional URS providers will be added.

That appears to be new information.

Domainers, and the Internet Commerce Association, which represents domainers, have long pressed for UDRP providers and, more recently, URS providers, to be bound by contracts.

The ICA, for example, has often said that no new UDRP providers should be approved until there’s a contractual way for ICANN to prevent mismanagement of disputes and “forum shopping”.

Soon, it seems, at least URS providers will have some contractual coverage.

The National Arbitration Forum and the Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre have already been approved as URS providers.

Three gTLDs that Google doesn’t treat as gTLDs

Google this week reportedly updated its Webmaster Tools service to treat more ccTLDs as non-geography-specific, but it still seems to be overlooking two gTLDs altogether.

According to its refreshed FAQ, only 19 gTLDs are treated as “gTLDs that can be geotargeted in Webmaster Tools”.

The list does not include .post, which has been in the DNS since August 2012 and available to buy since October, or .xxx, which was delegated and went to general availability in 2011.

While the .arpa gTLD also does not appear (for perfectly sane reasons), the list does include tightly controlled and restricted gTLDs such as .int and .mil, however.

Google treats .asia the same as the ccTLD .eu: a “regional top-level domain” that can be geo-targeted in the same way as a regular gTLD.

The rules appear to apply to the geo-targeting function in Webmaster Tools, which allows webmasters to specify whether their site is designed for only a certain nation or region.

Assuming the list, which was updated this week, is accurate, it’s just the latest example of Google dragging its feet on gTLD acceptance.

One would assume, with Google being an applicant for almost 100 new gTLDs, that before long its gTLD team will be able to affect change elsewhere in the company in a more timely fashion.

ICANN issues new gTLD dispute RFPs

ICANN has issued two requests for proposals for providers to administer dispute resolution services for the new gTLD program.

It’s looking for outfits to manage the Registry Restrictions Dispute Resolution Procedure (RRDRP) and Trademark Post-Delegation Dispute Resolution Procedure (Trademark PDDRP).

The former is for people who think a Community gTLD registry is mishandling its registration restrictions, the latter for trademark owners who believe a registry is turning a blind eye to cybersquatting.

ICANN has a requirement that the respondents to the RFPs must have experience with dispute resolution, so expect the usual suspects (ie UDRP providers) to wind up on the shortlist.