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ICM files $120m lawsuit over Manwin’s .xxx “boycott”

Kevin Murphy, October 1, 2012, Domain Registries

ICM Registry has counter-sued YouPorn owner Manwin Licensing, looking for at least $120 million in damages, saying the porn giant is using its market power to sideline the .xxx domain.

The company claims that Manwin’s antitrust lawsuit, filed last October, is merely one of several attacks against its business.

The counter-suit alleges that Manwin, after trying and failing to invest in ICM, illegally restrained trade by forcing its business partners not to do business with ICM.

The suit (pdf) reads:

Manwin has utilized its dominance in the adult entertainment industry to encourage the wholesale boycott of the .XXX TLD in the industry in order to destroy any competition tat may arise from the commercialization of .XXX and has secured agreement, either express or implied, by those within the industry that they will not do business with .XXX.

Manwin, for example, “coerced .XXX spokesmodels to end relationships with ICM” and “conditioned contracts with third parties on their non-involvement with the .XXX TLD”, according to ICM.

The counterclaims were filed in a California court on Friday, as the latest stage of the two companies’ ongoing legal battle.

The registry is looking for $40 million in damages for Sherman Act violations, trebled.

Manwin claims ICM and ICANN broke US competition law by setting up the .xxx “monopoly”, which both ICANN and ICM deny.

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Blacknight dumps .ie from free domain program, replaces it with .co

Kevin Murphy, October 1, 2012, Domain Registrars

Blacknight Solutions has dropped its local ccTLD, .ie, from the free domain name program it offers in partnership with Google to Irish small businesses.

It’s being replaced with .co, the repurposed Colombian ccTLD, which has been getting an indecent amount of traction in regional projects targeting small business recently.

“Unfortunately, while we may be the market leader for .IE, we feel that the restrictions on the domain impose too many restraints to benefit program participants,” Blacknight CEO Michele Neylon said.

Supporting the highly restrictive ccTLD was imposing too many costs and headaches, Neylon said. The company will continue to sell the domains, just not through the program.

Blacknight, Google and the Irish postal service have been offering companies a free year domain registration and hosting under the banner of Getting Business Online for over a year.

In May, Blacknight reported that in the first year only about 21% of companies participating in the program chose .ie.

The .co domain is of course unrestricted.

It’s another regional win for .CO Internet, which markets .co as the TLD of choice for startups.

Just last week .CO Internet announced that Startup Britain, a private-sector entrepreneurial campaign backed by the UK government, had switched from a .org to a .co.

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Goodbye to .co? Nominet ponders releasing second-level .uk domains

Kevin Murphy, October 1, 2012, Domain Registries

Nominet wants to let UK companies register domain names directly under .uk for the first time.

The company today launched a major consultation, seeking industry and internet users’ input on a plan to open up the second level to verified British businesses.

Today’s it’s only possible to register .uk domains at the third level — .co.uk and .org.uk are the most popular suffixes. But if Nominet gets positive feedback, you’d be able to register example.uk instead.

Second-level domains would come with a few catches, however. Nominet says it wants to create a higher-security zone.

They’d be more expensive: £20 per year instead of £2.50.

Registrants would have to be based in the UK, with verifiable contact information, and domains would only start resolving post-verification.

DNSSEC might also be mandatory.

It’s expected that registrants would be prohibited from selling third-level domains in their zones. There could be large numbers of reserved names, such as the names of towns.

There might even be restrictions on which registrars can sell the names.

There are obviously no plans to get rid of .co.uk and the other public suffixes, but over time I can see a movement in that direction.

The exact rules will depend to an extent on the results of the consultation, which can be downloaded here. The deadline for responses is January 7.

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Nominet caught using Google Translate on Welsh gTLD site

Kevin Murphy, October 1, 2012, Domain Registries

Welsh internet users have accused Nominet of using Google to translate its .wales and .cymru gTLD sites into Welsh.

According to a Welsh-speaking reader, the majority of the Welsh version Domain For Wales makes “no linguistic sense”.

The site “looks like it has been initially translated using Google Translate, and amended by someone who isn’t that proficient in the language”, the reader said.

While I do not read Welsh, the Nominet site does bear some of the giveaway hallmarks of Google Translate.

If you regularly use Google to translate domain name industry web sites, you’ll know that the software has problems with TLDs, misinterpreting the dot as a period and therefore breaking up sentences.

That seems to be what happened here:

Nid yw eto’n bosibl i gofrestru. Cymru neu. Enw parth cymru gan fod y ceisiadau yn cael eu hystyried gan ICANN.

On the English site, the text is:

It is not yet possible to register a .cymru or .wales domain name as the applications are under consideration by ICANN.

Running a few other English pages through Google Translate also produces the same text as Nominet is using on the Welsh version of the same pages.

Welsh language tech blogger Carl Morris first spotted the errors.

Nominet has applied to ICANN for .wales and .cymru with the blessing of the Welsh and UK governments.

Its selection was initially criticized by some in Wales because Nominet is based in England and has no Welsh presence.

The company has committed to open an office in Wales, hiring Welsh-speaking staff, however.

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GNSO Chair contest is Rickert v Robinson

Kevin Murphy, September 28, 2012, Domain Policy

Two candidates for the soon-be-vacated chair of the Generic Names Supporting Organization have been put forward.

Jonathan Robinson has been nominated by the contracted parties house (registries and registrars), while Thomas Rickert has been put forward by the non-contracted parties.

Rickert, an IP lawyer, is director of names and numbers at Eco, a German internet industry association. He was appointed to the GNSO Council by the ICANN Nominating Committee last year.

UK-based Robinson is a longstanding member of the domain name industry and a registries rep on the Council. He’s a director of Afilias and runs IProta, the startup that managed ICM Registry’s sunrise last year.

The two men will be voted on by the GNSO Council before the chairman’s seat, currently occupied by Stephane Van Gelder, is vacated at the end of the Toronto meeting next month.

Van Gelder is coming to the end of his term on the Council after two years in the chair, hence the need for a replacement.

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