dotBest cancels landrush

Kevin Murphy, April 17, 2014, Domain Registries

PeopleBrowsr has decided to cancel the landrush phase for its forthcoming .best new gTLD, citing “very little engagement” from registrants.

The TLD is due to go to sunrise today. Two days after it ends on May 19, it will go directly to general availability.

VP of operations Michael Deparini said in an email:

Many of our registrars have given us feedback that there has been very little engagement with the TLD Landrush Phase. We have decided to cancel Landrush.

We are excited to announce that we will open General Availability (GA) ahead of schedule to commence on May 21 at 16:00:00 GMT (12pm EST).

PeopleBrowsr is also the company behind .ceo, which launched two weeks ago with just 250 names in its first couple of days on the market — about 40% of which belonged to one cybersquatter.

.ceo currently has 798 domains in its zone, making it the fourth-smallest of the 74 new gTLDs that currently appear to be selling names.

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New gTLD domains top 500,000 as Schilling goes on parking spree

Kevin Murphy, April 16, 2014, Domain Registries

The total number of new gTLD domains broke through half a million for the first time yesterday, but it seems to be due to Frank Schilling obtaining tens of thousands of names in his own TLDs.

Uniregistry’s .link became the fifth-largest new gTLD, moving almost 20,000 names, but it appears that the vast majority are registered to a company affiliated with CEO Schilling.

Uniregistry’s other gTLDs — .tattoo, .sexy, .pics, .photo and .gift — all saw huge jumps too, apparently for the same reason.

This morning’s .link zone files show a pop of 19,945 names, to a total of 20,050.

That would be the third-best GA-day performance, after .guru and .berlin, of any new gTLD to date, but it seems the vast majority are actually premium names acquired by a Uniregistry affiliate.

Of those new .link names, 18,272 (91%) are being parked on internettraffic.com, another Schilling company.

I took a random sampling and found them all registered to North Sound Names, a company based on Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman, which is where Schilling lives.

Schilling said this on Twitter yesterday:

Premium names are of course those that were reserved by the registry. So either a third-party has bought them wholesale, or Uniregistry has simply shifted them over to an affiliated company.

I’ve asked Schilling to confirm that North Sound Names is also his company and will update this post with his answer.

Testing some domains in Uniregistry’s other gTLDs, I found a similar pattern — big spike, mostly parked at internettraffic.com, North Sound Names in a sampling of the Whois.

Here’s a screenshot of today’s best-performing new gTLDs from DI PRO (click to enlarge):

Overall, six of Uniregistry’s new gTLDs grew by a total of 50,735 domains today — 95% of the 53,147 industry total — and internettraffic.com’s name servers are responsible for 37,668 new names.

This brings the total number of “registered” domains to 538,093, though I would suggest that this metric may no longer be a decent measurement of actual end user interest in new gTLD domains.

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Pricey .luxury made $500k already

Kevin Murphy, April 15, 2014, Domain Registries

The new gTLD .luxury seems to have sold more than $500,000 worth of domain names already.

(UPDATE: That’s probably not accurate. I seem to have misread some registrar pricing pages. The sunrise price was actually much lower than $1,000. See comments below.)

Saturday’s zone file for the Luxury Partners-owned TLD popped from 1 domain to 470 domains. Most of the new names appear to have been registered during the sunrise period, which ended early last week.

Given the current retail price of over $1,000, it seems .luxury is already a $500,000 business, at least for 2014. Renewal pricing is around the $700 mark, equating to $329,000 a year just on sunrise registrations.

That’s including the registrar markup, of course. The registry will be making a bit less.

“Luxury” brands such as Cartier and Formula 1 bought multiple domains during sunrise. Some tech firms, such as Facebook and Google, continued their blanket approach to defensives.

With such a high price, one wonders what some of these rights holders are thinking: do they really believe cybersquatters are prepared to drop $700 a year infringing their brands?

Sadly there are already a couple of examples of newbie squatters spending absurd sums on clearly infringing new gTLD domains.

It will be interesting to see whether any of these registrants actually use their domains, or whether they’re mainly defensive registrations. I suspect the latter will be more often the case.

Currently in landrush, .luxury is due to go to general availability in about a month.

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Belgium comes out against Donuts’ .spa bid

Kevin Murphy, April 15, 2014, Domain Policy

Belgium wants Donuts’ application for .spa rejected after the new gTLD applicant declined to sign a deal with the city of Spa.

In a March 20 letter to ICANN, published today, the Belgian deputy prime minister Johan Vande Lanotte said “negotiations between the stakeholders are closed”, adding that Belgium:

requests the Board of Directors of the ICANN to delegate the new “.spa” gTLD to the candidate who has a formal agreement with the local authorities of Spa and in respect of the public interest.

That’s the other applicant in the two-horse .spa race, Asia Spa and Wellness Promotion Council, which has promised to earmark up to 25% of its European profits to spa-related uses in the environs of Spa.

The letter was sent a week before the Governmental Advisory Committee issued its Singapore communique, which noncommittally noted that it “welcomes” the agreement between Spa and ASWPC.

ICANN may or may not be currently in receipt of firm, consensus GAC advice to accept or reject either of the remaining .spa applications.

In Beijing a year ago, the GAC put .spa on a list of gTLD strings where “further GAC consideration may be warranted” and asked ICANN to “not proceed beyond Initial Evaluation”.

At the Durban and Buenos Aires meetings last year the GAC said ICANN should not “proceed beyond initial evaluation until the agreements between the relevant parties are reached.”

Given that Donuts and Spa evidently cannot come to an agreement, ICANN presumably remains advised to keep one or both .spa applications on hold. The advice is pretty vague.

The string “spa” is not a geographic name within the rules of the new gTLD program. Donuts argues that it’s too generic nowadays to belong just to Spa.

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Geo gTLDs catch a break with new launch rules

Kevin Murphy, April 11, 2014, Domain Policy

New gTLDs with a geographic or community focus have won concessions from ICANN under new rules published today.

All new gTLD registries will be able to allocate names to public authorities, matching for example district names or landmarks, even if those names match trademarks in the Trademark Clearinghouse.

The change came in the final version of the Qualified Launch Program guidelines, which spells out how new registries are able to allocate up to 100 names, pre-sunrise, to anchor tenants.

The new language related to public authorities reads says that any registry, may give names to any “international, national, regional, local or municipal governmental authority”.

Such domains must match “the name of a building, park, monument, airport or other public place… region, city, street, district or other geographic area” operated by the authority, the name or acronym of the authority itself, or the name of one of its public services.

The carve-out would allow (to use a Minds + Machines example), the .london registry to give thepolice.london to the Metropolitan Police, even if the Sting-fronted band The Police had a matching mark in the TMCH.

The newly amended rules apply to all new gTLDs, not only those that were classified as “geographic” under ICANN’s rules. So they would apply to .scot, for example, even though it’s not strictly a geographic name.

But the QLP still would prevent registries allocating a TMCH-listed string to anyone prior to their sunrise period concluding, unless the entity getting the name also owned the TMCH listing.

The new QLP rules are available here.

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