A new gTLD applicant backed by the hotel industry has won a Community Priority Evaluation, meaning it gets to automatically win the .hotel contention set without going to auction.
If the decision stands, no fewer than six rival applicants for the string — including the likes of Donuts, Radix, Famous Four and Minds + Machines — are going to have to withdraw their applications.
It’s a bit of a shocker.
The CPE winner is HOTEL Top-Level-Domain, which scored 15 out of 16 available points in the CPE. The minimum required to vanquish all foes is 14 points.
The company will have spent a fair bit of cash fighting the CPE, but nothing compared to the millions of dollars an auction for .hotel would be likely to fetch.
Crucially, where HOTEL prevailed was on the “Nexus” criterion — demonstrating a link between the string and the community supporting the application — where four points are available.
In the first four CPE results to come through, back in March, each applicant scored a 0 on Nexus and none scored more than 11 points overall.
Dot Registry, which failed four CPEs (.inc, .llc, .corp and .llp) this week, also repeatedly flunked on this count.
HOTEL, however, scored a 3.
Rival applicants such as Donuts and M+M had argued that HOTEL’s stated community failed to take into account smaller hoteliers, such as bed and breakfast owners.
But the CPE panelist decided that the application did not “substantially overreach”:
The string nexus closely describes the community, without overreaching substantially beyond the community. The string identifies the name of the core community members (i.e. hotels and associations representing hotels). However, the community also includes some entities that are related to hotels, such as hotel marketing associations that represent hotels and hotel chains and which may not be automatically associated with the gTLD. However, these entities are considered to comprise only a small part of the community. Therefore, the string identifies the community, but does not over-reach substantially beyond the community, as the general public will generally associate the string with the community as defined by the applicant.
There’s no formal appeals mechanism for CPE, but rival applicants could try their luck with more general ICANN procedures such as Requests for Reconsideration.
HOTEL Top-Level-Domain is a Luxembourg-based entity, founded in 2008 to apply for the gTLD, backed by about a dozen international hotelier associations, including the International Hotel and Restaurant Association.
The IHRA counts 50 major hotel chain brands among its members and claims to be officially recognized by the UN for its lobbying work on behalf of the hospitality industry.
HOTEL intends to keep the .hotel gTLD restricted “initially” to only hotels as defined in the international standard ISO 18513.
Registrants will be verified against hotel industry databases. This will happen post-registration, but before the domain name can be activated in the DNS.
In other words, unless you’re a member of the hotel industry, you won’t be getting to use a .hotel domain name. Domainers are apparently not wanted.
All .hotel names will also be checked a year from registration to ensure that they have a web site displaying relevant content. Redirection to other TLDs may be allowed.
I was so convinced that the CPE was designed in such a way that it would be failed by all the applicants which had applied for it, I bet $50 (to go to an applicant-nominated charity) that none would.
If HOTEL wants to let me know which charity they want the $50 to go to, I’ll get it donated forthwith. I’m just glad I didn’t offer to eat my underwear.
Neustar is to impose the Uniform Rapid Suspension policy on the .us ccTLD.
This means trademark owners are going to get a faster, cheaper way to get infringing .us domains taken down.
From July 1, all existing and new .us names will be subject to the policy.
Neustar’s calling it the usRS or .us Rapid Suspension service, but a blog post from the company confirms that it’s basically URS with a different name.
It will be administered by the National Arbitration Forum and cost mark owners from $375 per complaint, just like URS.
Neustar becomes the second ccTLD operator to support URS after PW Registry’s .pw, which implemented it from launch.
URS and usRS only permit domains to be suspended, not transferred to the mark owner, so there’s less chance of it being abused to reverse-hijack domains.
The burden of proof is also higher than UDRP — “clear and convincing evidence”.
Two companies have yanked three bids for dot-brand new gTLDs this week.
The German financial advisor Allfinanz Deutsche Vermögensberatung withdrew its applications for .allfinanzberatung and .allfinanzberater, which mean Allfinanz “advice” and “advisers”.
As well as being a bit of a mouthful, they both appear to be unnecessary given that the company also applied for .allfinanz by itself. That application has passed evaluation and is still active.
Meanwhile, in Finland, one of the world’s biggest elevator/escalator manufacturers, KONE, has withdrawn its equally unfathomable application for .kone.
Roughly 55 dot-brand applications have been withdrawn to date. Hundreds remain.
Minds + Machines managed to make a profit in 2013, after years of losses, due to its participation in private new gTLD auctions, some of which it “lost”.
The company today reported operating profit of £776,000 for the year to December 31, compared to a £3.07 million loss in 2012, on revenue of £4.12 million. Profit after tax was £729,000.
“Profit was primarily a result from participating three private auctions,” CEO Antony Van Couvering said in a statement.
Chairman Fred Krueger added:
As we expected, private auctions have become the key method of settling contention between applications and we have benefited from this development, as it has enabled our cash to work on a leveraged basis: the domains we have lost in private auction (for example .property and .website) have helped finance new TLDs we have acquired such as .wedding and .garden.
Minds + Machines (then Top Level Domain Holdings) said last October that it had raised £2.97 million by losing the auctions for .lawyer and .website.
Excluding the auctions, it looks like the company made just £36,000 in revenue, all of which came from its registry back-end business.
Donuts has won the contention sets for three new gTLDs, at least two of which seem to have come as the result of an Applicant Auction auction.
It beat mySARL to .sarl, Lucy Ventures to .gifts and Uniregistry, Minds + Machines and Famous Four to .restaurant. All of these rival bidders have withdrawn their applications now.
.sarl is a company designator in some French-speaking countries, including France.
.restaurant is interesting because it will be competing against .rest. While I prefer .restaurant, .rest’s backers believe it has broader appeal in non-English-speaking nations.
.gifts will be competing against Uniregistry’s .gift, which currently has 5,781 registrations.
Since I was told that Applicant Auction had settled 10 contested gTLDs almost two weeks ago, 11 contention sets have been resolved by withdrawals.
I’m guessing one of these fights was settled by other means. Donuts has been known to make private deals on occasion.