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Afilias wants registrar ownership ban lifted on .mobi and .pro

Afilias has applied to ICANN to have its ban on owning registrars in two of its own gTLDs, .mobi and .pro, lifted.

With requests to ICANN a few days ago (here and here), the company said it wants to be able to own more than 15% of an ICANN-accredited registrar that sells both TLDs, which is currently forbidden by the two Registry Agreements in question.

Afilias’ proposed new .info contract, which was renegotiated this year (because it expired) and closed for public comment last week, would also enable the company to vertically integrate with a .info registrar.

A process for relaxing the cross-ownership rules on a per-TLD basis was approved by ICANN’s board of directors last October.

The only registry so far to have its contractual ban lifted is puntCat, the .cat registry operator.

When an ICANN working group was discussing the vertical integration issue a couple of years ago, Afilias was one of the participants that held fast against any relaxation of the 15% ownership cap, eventually driving the working group into stalemate and forcing the ICANN board’s hand.

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L’Oreal takes the red pill, withdraws .matrix bid

L’Oreal has withdrawn another of its dot-brand new gTLD applications.

This time it’s .matrix, for one of its hair-care product brands.

It’s the eighth of L’Oreal’s 14 original new gTLD applications to be withdrawn, after .欧莱雅, .kiehls, .loreal, .garnier, .maybelline, .kerastase, and .redken.

Only .lancome remains of its dot-brand applications. It has already passed Initial Evaluation, unlike the others which tend to get dropped shortly before results are posted, to secure a bigger refund.

Its “closed generic” bids for .skin, .beauty, .hair, .makeup and .salon are all still active and have all passed IE.

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Is social media the answer to the dot-brand problem?

With many dot-brand gTLD applicants still unsure about how they will use their new namespaces, the maker of the Kred reputation service is proposing social media as the answer.

Speaking to DI today, Kred CEO Andrew Grill said that one dot-brand applicant — a bank — has already committed to use parent company PeopleBrowsr’s new Social OS platform for its gTLD.

Social OS is being marketed as a way for companies to quickly launch their own social media networks along the lines of Facebook or LinkedIn.

Dot-brands would be able to own the customer relationship and get access to much more data about their users than they get with the limited “Like”-oriented Facebook platform, Grill said.

End users would be able to use these vertical networks using their existing social media log-in credentials, he said.

The company plans to use the platform in its own gTLD, .ceo, which it has applied for uncontested.

Grill said he talked to about 100 people at the recent ICANN meeting in Durban and expects to come away with five to 10 additional customers for the Social OS platform.

While the value proposition for new gTLD owners seems fairly reasonable, in general I’m quite skeptical about the internet’s need for more social media sites.

Any such service operated by a dot-brand would have to have a fairly compelling value proposition for end users.

Grill said that a car maker, for example, could use its own gTLD social media network to keep in touch with its customers — giving them a second-level domain when they buy one of its vehicles.

A bank, meanwhile, could offer services such as customer-to-customer transaction apps for users who have second-level domains in its gTLD. If registrations were limited to existing banking customers, a greater level of security would be baked in from the start, he said.

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Google beats USPS in LRO, Defender loses another

The United States Postal Service and Defender Security have both lost Legal Rights Objections over the new gTLDs .mail and .home, respectively.

In both cases it’s not the first LRO the objector has lost. USPS, losing here against Google, lost a similar objection against Amazon, while Defender has previously racked up six losses over .home.

The Defender case (pdf) this time was against .Home Registry Inc. The objection was rejected by the World Intellectual Property Organization panelist on pretty much the same grounds as the others — Defender acquired its trademark rights purely in order to be able to file LROs against its .home rivals.

In the USPS v Amazon case (pdf) the WIPO panelist also decided along the same lines as the previous case.

The decision turned on whether USPS, which owns trademarks on “U.S. Mail” but not “mail”, could be said to have rights in “mail” by virtue of the fact that it is the monopoly postal service in the US.

USPS argued that .mail is like .gov — internet users know a .gov domain is owned by the US government, so they’re likely to think .mail belongs to the official US mail service.

The panelist decided that users are more likely to associate the gTLD with email:

A consumer viewing the string <.mail> in the context of a domain name registration or an email address is presumably even more likely to think of the electronic (“email”) meaning, rather than the postal meaning, of the term “mail,”

WIPO has now decided 20 LRO cases. All have been rejected. Several more were terminated after the objector withdrew its objection.

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URS is live today as .pw voluntarily adopts it

Kevin Murphy, July 29, 2013, Domain Policy

Directi has become the first TLD registry to start complying with the Uniform Rapid Suspension process for cybersquatting complaints.

From today, all .pw domain name registrations will be subject to the policy, which enables trademark owners to have domains suspended more quickly and cheaply than with UDRP.

URS was designed, and is obligatory, for all new gTLDs, but Directi decided to adopt the policy along with UDRP voluntarily, to help mitigate abuse in the ccTLD namespace.

URS requirements for gTLD registries have not yet been finalized, but this is moot as they don’t apply to .pw anyway.

To date, only two UDRP complaints have been filed over .pw domains.

The National Arbitration Forum will be handling URS complaints. Instructions for filing can be found here.

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