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NameJet and Afternic sign another gTLD launch

Kevin Murphy, April 3, 2013, Domain Services

NameJet and Afternic will provide launch auctions and premium name distribution for the .build gTLD, should it be approved, the two companies have announced.

The deal was inked with applicant Plan Bee LLC, which is affiliated with Minardos Group, a construction company.

The two companies will handle auctions under the sunrise and landrush phases, according to a press release.

It’s the second such deal to be announced by the Afternic/Namejet partnership to date, after WhatBox’s .menu. The companies are also working with Directi’s .pw registry.

Plan Bee has also applied for .expert and .construction, but these are both contested so there’s less certainty that they’ll end up approved.

The applicant reckons it will be able to bring .build to market in the fourth quarter of this year.

With a prioritization number of 1,049 in ICANN’s queue, this may prove optimistic, depending on how the remaining portions of the program — such as predelegation testing and contracting — pan out.

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ICANN selects new gTLD backup providers

Neustar, Nominet and CNNIC have been picked to provide backup registry services for new gTLDs that fail.

ICANN has named the three companies as Emergency Back-End Registry Operators for the new gTLD program.

They’ll be responsible for taking over the management of any new gTLD that goes out of business, putting registrants at risk of losing DNS resolution and registry functions.

The idea is that the EBERO(s) would be paid out of funds placed in escrow by gTLD applicants, in order to gracefully wind down any failed TLD over the space of a few years.

In reality, I doubt there’s going to be much call for their services; M&A activity is a more likely outcome for gTLDs that fail to meet their sales expectations.

ICANN highlighted the geographic diversity of the three companies (Nominet is British, Neustar American and CNNIC Chinese) as a stability benefit of its selections.

The three were chosen from 14 respondents to an RFI published last year.

The absence of an EBERO was one of the shortfalls of the new gTLD program highlighted by Verisign in its recent letter warning ICANN about perceived security and stability risks.

While ICANN has acknowledged that the EBEROs are unlikely to be ready to roll before the first new gTLDs start to launch, it has noted that they don’t need to be.

If any new gTLD catastrophically fails during the first few months of launch, it will reflect extremely poorly on the financial and technical evaluations applicants have been undergoing for the last nine months.

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Go Daddy hires CTO from Yahoo

Go Daddy has made its third top-level hire from CEO Blake Irving’s alma mater, Yahoo.

Elissa Murphy, formerly vice president of engineering, will join the registrar as chief technology officer and head of platform, All Things D reports.

Go Daddy has reportedly confirmed the move, saying she’s due to start next month.

The news comes just a few weeks after the company recruited James Carroll from Yahoo to head its international business.

Irving joined Go Daddy in January.

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First seven TMCH agents approved

Kevin Murphy, April 2, 2013, Domain Services

The Trademark Clearinghouse has listed its first seven approved trademark submission agents.

These are the companies that are able to secure bulk discounts for submitted marks to the TMCH.

The first seven are NetNames, Corporation Service Company, SafeNames, MailClub, Key-Systems, Net-Chinese, which are all domain registrars too, and the Law Offices of S.J. Christine Yang, which isn’t.

Holders of large trademark portfolios are also allowed to become agents in their own right, but most TMCH submissions are expected to be carried out via these third parties.

The full list is here.

The cost of submitting trademarks, if you’re an agent, can be worked out using the TMCH Cost Calculator.

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ICANN tones down power grab in new gTLD contract

Kevin Murphy, April 2, 2013, Domain Policy

ICANN has published a new version of its Registry Agreement for new gTLD operators that waters down the controversial unilateral right to amend provisions.

The revised RA, available for review here, makes it harder for ICANN to force new rules on registries without their consent, at least when compared to the version published in February.

The Special Amendment process is designed to allow ICANN to change the contract when it’s in the public interest.

DI outlined the changes to the process last week.

While most of the changes we described have in fact made it to the published RA, we were wrong on one count: despite what we reported, ICANN directors with conflicts of interest will not be able to vote.

That means representatives of registries and registrars won’t get a say when the board discusses their contracts.

A couple of other significant changes are apparent:

  • Concessions to dot-brand registries. It would now be harder for ICANN to redelegate a dot-brand to another operator if the registry abandons its gTLD. ICANN has never had any intention of doing so, of course, but the relative lack of safeguards have been making dot-brand applicants nervous for years. Now, existing intellectual property rights would be taken into consideration during redelegation decisions.
  • More secrecy. There’s a new section on “confidential information”, along with references to it sprinkled throughout, designed to protect trade secrets registries may disclose to ICANN.

ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade is expected to play hard-ball on these changes, according to recent reports.

Because registries get a perpetual right of renewal, and because it’s uncertain how the power balance will hang in policy-making, ICANN believes it would be irresponsible to sign an RA that does not give it the right to step in an protect the public interest in future.

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