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Europe rejects ICANN’s authority as it warns of problems with 58 new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, November 27, 2012, Domain Services

The European Commission has issued a list of 58 new gTLD applications it considers problematic, thumbing its nose at ICANN’s procedures for handling government objections to new gTLDs.

The list, sent to all applicants this afternoon, draws in several applications that were not already subject to Early Warnings from other GAC nations, including .sex, .sexy and .free.

Remarkably, the cover letter says that the gTLDs are not “Early Warnings” as described by the ICANN Applicant Guidebook and says the Commission may continue to work outside the established process in future:

The position outlined in this letter is without prejudice to any further action that the Commission might decide to undertake in order to safeguard the rights and interests of the European Union and of its citizens.

For the sake of clarity, the Commission does not consider itself legally bound to the processes, including the means of recourse, outlined in the new gTLD Applicant Guidebook and/or adopted by ICANN, unless a legal agreement between the latter and the Commission exists.

While that’s little more than a statement of fact — governments are of course free to do whatever they want in their own jurisdictions — it’s giving applicants much more reason to be nervous.

Even if they don’t receive GAC Advice against their applications, the EC may decide to take other action against them.

The fact that the letter also explicitly states that the warnings are definitely not official Early Warnings — meaning applicants on the list won’t even qualify for the extra refund if they drop out — sends a worrying signal that the EC is not in the mood to play by ICANN’s rules.

As for the list itself, the Commission’s letter states that it’s “non-exhaustive” and that it focuses on bids that “could possibly raise issues of compatibility with the existing legislations (the acquis) and/or with policy positions and objectives of the European Union”.

The fact that the list contains ICM Registry’s .adult and .sex applications, but not its identical .porn bid, seems to confirm that the list does not cover all the gTLDs the Commission has a problem with.

The letter (pdf) states that the Commission will attempt to enter into “further discussions” with the applicants on the list (pdf).

New gTLD marketing conference coming to New York

Kevin Murphy, November 8, 2012, Domain Services

Momentum Consulting has announced a conference focused on marketing with new gTLDs for New York City next March.

The Digital Marketing & gTLD Strategy Congress is designed for brand managers, trademark lawyers and marketing executives, according to organizers.

The preliminary agenda was published today. It includes speakers from Citibank, which has applied for two new gTLDs, Neustar, Afilias, Domain Diction, PIR, Deloitte and Donuts.

ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade has also been invited to deliver the keynote, according to the agenda.

Lead sponsors include Afilias and Domain Diction. DI, Domain Name Wire and The Domains are media sponsors.

The event will run from March 11 to 12 in New York City. The venue does not appear to have been confirmed yet.

Right Of The Dot to offer new gTLD contention auctions with Escrow.com

Kevin Murphy, November 2, 2012, Domain Services

New gTLD consultancy Right Of The Dot has partnered with Escrow.com on a new auction offering designed for new gTLD applicants in contention sets.

The deal, which ROTD said is exclusive, will enable the company to offer trustworthy escrow of funds as part of its auction service.

ROTD is planning three standard types of auction design — sealed-bid, ascending bid and live oral — for when mediation between gTLD applicants fails or is not wanted.

Its fees start at 4% of the winning bid, with the remainder being distributed to losing bidders.

Private auctions are expected in many cases to be the contention resolution method of choice for new gTLD applicants, because the losing bidders get paid when they drop out.

The alternative method laid out in the ICANN Applicant Guidebook would see funds flow instead to ICANN.

ROTD is the consultancy formed last year by well-known domain investors Monte Cahn (formerly of Moniker) and Michael Berkens (author of TheDomains.com).

Indian domain conference attracts 4,000

Kevin Murphy, October 31, 2012, Domain Services

While US domain conferences are reportedly becoming sedate affairs, a domain-heavy summit that kicks off tomorrow in Mumbai has more than 4,000 signed-up attendees, according to organizers.

The two-day ResellerClub Hosting Summit, organized by Directi, may have “hosting” in the title, but its sponsors and agenda reveal a strong presence from the domain name industry.

Verisign is the major sponsor, plugging its .com and .net TLDs. Other sponsors include .org, .biz, .co, .asia and .pw.

The agenda features speakers from Public Interest Registry, ICANN, NameMedia and Directi new gTLD applicant Radix.

ARI expands its DNS business

Kevin Murphy, October 22, 2012, Domain Services

ARI Registry Services officially announced its aggressive targeting of the DNS services market at an event in Toronto last week.

The company says it is the named DNS provider in over 450 new gTLD applications, giving it a substantial foot in the door should they be approved by ICANN.

That’s almost three times as many applications as ARI is involved with as registry provider.

“To our competitors, we are coming for you,” a tired and emotional ARI CEO Adrian Kinderis said during the launch event at a club in Toronto last Tuesday, which DI attended.

“Bring it on,” equally tired and emotional executives from larger competitors were heard to mutter in the audience.

ARI seems to be targeting just TLD operators to begin with, while competitors such as Verisign, Neustar and Afilias also offer managed DNS to enterprises.

ARI already runs the DNS for Australia’s .au.