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Bulgarian domain show returns for second year

Kevin Murphy, August 22, 2012, Domain Services

Domain Forum, the Bulgarian conference on new gTLDs that ran in Sofia late last year, is to return.

While the agenda has yet to be confirmed, the dates have. The event will run November 15 and November 16 at the Grand Sofia Hotel.

The scope of the show seems to be a little broader than just new gTLDs this time around, with sessions on domain name technology such as DNSSEC and intellectual property also planned.

I’d hazard a guess that Bulgaria’s ongoing quest for its own Cyrillic IDN ccTLD will also take a prominent role in discussions.

Architelos launches new gTLD anti-abuse tool

Kevin Murphy, August 15, 2012, Domain Services

Architelos, having consulted on about 50 new gTLD applications, has refocused on its longer-term software-based game plan with the recent launch of a new anti-abuse tool for registries.

NameSentry is a software-as-a-service offering, currently being trialed by an undisclosed number of potential customers, designed to make it easier to track abusive domains.

Architelos gave us a demo of the web site yesterday.

The service integrates real-time data feeds from up to nine third-party blocklists – such as SURBL and SpamHaus – into one interface, enabling users to see how many domains in their TLD are flagged as abusive.

Users can then drill down to see why each domain has been flagged – whether it’s spamming, phishing, hosting malware, etc – and, with built-in Whois, which registrar is responsible for it.

There’s also the ability to generate custom abuse reports on the fly and to automate the sending of takedown notices to registrars.

CEO Alexa Raad and CTO Michael Young said the service can help streamline the abuse management workflow at TLD registries.

Currently, Architelos is targeting mainly ccTLDs – there’s more of them – but before too long it expects start signing new gTLD registries as they start coming online.

With many new gTLD applicants promising cleaner-than-clean zones, and with governments leaning on their ccTLDs in some countries, there could be some demand for services such as this.

NameSentry is priced on a subscription basis, based on the size of the TLD zone.

.sx denies .sex gTLD objection rumor

Kevin Murphy, July 26, 2012, Domain Services

The CEO of SX Registry has denied rumors that the company already plans to object to the two .sex new gTLD applications, but has not yet ruled out such a move.

The company runs Sint Maarten’s new ccTLD, .sx, and gossip at the ICANN meeting in Prague last month suggested that an objection or two against .sex might be made on confusing similarity grounds.

The rumors were fueled in part by SX Registry’s sexy launch marketing.

But in a recent email to DI, Normand Fortier wrote:

At this time SX Registry is still reviewing the impact of various gTLD applications and contrary to some published rumors, has not taken any official position or decision regarding a future course of action.

Existing ccTLD operators are allowed to file String Confusion Objections against gTLD applications, if they feel there’s a risk of confusion if the gTLD is approved.

And .sx/.sex is far from a unique case.

In fact, of the 375 applications for three-letter gTLDs in the first round, 304 have only one character variance with one or more existing ccTLDs, according to DI PRO’s string similarity analysis.

ICANN’s Sword algorithm, which compares the visual similarity of strings, gives .sex a score of 57% against .sx.

I’ve checked every three-character gTLD application against every existing ccTLD and found dozens of proposed gTLDs with much higher similarity scores when compared to ccTLD strings.

The full results are available to DI PRO subscribers over here.

Dispute over ‘confusing’ new gTLD company names

Kevin Murphy, July 19, 2012, Domain Services

Is this the first “confusing similarity” fight to emerge from ICANN’s new gTLD program?

Two new UK outfits are involved in a dispute about their very similar company names, it has emerged.

TLD Registry Services seems to have come first. It’s an offshoot of Island Networks, the registry manager for the Channel Islands country-code TLDs .gg and .je.

According to co-founder Nigel Roberts, the company plans to offer registry services to existing TLDs using the CoCCA platform and has already made headway with a few potential clients.

TLD Registrar Services, on the other hand, is affiliated with CentralNic, the relatively successful new gTLD registry back-end provider.

Judging by its placeholder web site, this company plans to offer white-label registrar services to new gTLD operators such as dot-brands.

Roberts is irked that CentralNic picked a name for its company so similar to his own, particularly given that “registry” and “registrar” are often used interchangeably outside of the domain industry.

“We’ve recently asked the Secretary of State to look into how this situation came to pass,” he said. “It’s less than ideal for both parties. We are sure they are just as keen not to be confused with us, as we are keen not to be confused with them.”

Ben Crawford, CEO of CentralNic and chairman of TLD Registrar Services, said he was not aware of a dispute over the name.

“One of our employees was approached at Prague by someone from a company called TLD Registry Services – a company nobody in our business had ever heard of before,” he said.

“They expressed concern that our company names are too similar to each others’. We will consider their concerns and our options in due course.”

With both companies barely out of stealth mode, it’s probably something of a squall in a teacup at the moment, but it does highlight how tricky it can be to find a descriptive company name in this industry.

We could of course just be looking at a profound lack of imagination here, and I’m just as guilty as the rest.

DI is published by TLD Research Ltd, which appears directly after TLD Registrar Services Ltd and TLD Registry Services LLP in the UK’s Companies House register of companies.

First new gTLD registry hub provider launches

Kevin Murphy, June 24, 2012, Domain Services

The first effort to provide a centralized “hub” between domain name registrars and new generic top-level domain registries has hit the market.

Norwegian new gTLD consultant/applicant CloudNames has launched The Registry Hub, and says it will offer more than 70% of its equity to the first companies that sign up for the service.

The problem it wants to address is that of complexity.

With hundreds of new mass-market gTLDs likely to appear over the next few years, it will be hard for registrars to keep track of them all.

The Registry Hub says it will provide a “technical, legal and commercial proxy” between registries and registrars.

It’s not entirely dissimilar to the business models of the reseller-oriented registrars that we see today.

One problem it hopes to tackle is paying registry fees.

It’s standard in the domain name industry today for registrars to pay their registry fees in advance – leaving a deposit with each of the registries they work with, which they chip away at over time.

That’s nice for the registry’s cash-flow, but it’s not going to be great for smaller registrars in a world with a few hundred new gTLDs they might want to sell.

These hub services – I’m expecting to see more announce themselves, soon — would consolidate deposits to make it commercially easier for smaller registrars to sell many more gTLDs.

Smart new gTLD registries will probably find market adoption easier if they can figure out ways to avoid this deposit problem entirely, perhaps by switching to a post-payment system.

The Registry Hub would take a small fee for each domain name registered through its service.