M+M registers for another 20 gTLD applications

Kevin Murphy, February 21, 2012, Domain Registries

Minds + Machines parent Top Level Domain Holdings has registered for another 20 new gTLD application slots with ICANN, bringing its total to date to 40.

The TLD Application System slots are for filing gTLD applications for itself and on behalf of M+M clients, the company said this morning.

A week ago, ICANN said that 100 registrations had been made with TAS.

TLDH is known to be involved in applications for .gay and .eco, among others. It registered its first 20 application slots during the first week of the application window, mid-January.

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Rogue registrar suspended over “stolen” domain

Kevin Murphy, February 20, 2012, Domain Registrars

ICANN has told Turkish domain name registrar Alantron that its accreditation will be suspended for a month due to its shoddy record-keeping.

The suspension, which will become effective March 8, follows an investigation into allegations of double-selling.

ICANN issued the suspension last Thursday after trying unsuccessfully for almost three months to get its hands on Alantron’s registration records.

The company now has until March 28 to sort out its compliance problems or face losing its accreditation entirely.

I understand the investigation was prompted by complaints filed by an American named Roger Rainwater over the potentially valuable domain name pricewire.com.

Pricewire.com spent a couple of years under Whois privacy but was grabbed last August by Turkish registrant Altan Tanriverdi, according to historical Whois records.

Rainwater, who says he had been monitoring it for three or four years, subsequently paid Tanriverdi an undisclosed sum for the domain, signing up for an Alantron account so it could be pushed.

Rainwater showed up in the Whois for pricewire.com on September 7 last year. But he says he was unable to change his name servers and 48 hours later the name disappeared from his account.

He says he was told by Alantron that it had put the domain in Tanriverdi’s account “by mistake” and that it was sold to SnapNames as part of a batch of dropping domains.

According to emails sent to Rainwater, seen by DI, Alantron said that pricewire.com was “registered via a partner company called Directi for a company called Snapnames”.

SnapNames had already auctioned the name – apparently there were more than 40 bidders – and the name has since been transferred to one Sammy Katz of Philadelphia.

However, given that Whois reliability is at question here, it’s not entirely clear who owns it. It’s currently parked at InternetTraffic.com.

Tanriverdi, who appears to be equally aggrieved, has published an extensive history of the dispute, along with screenshots, here (in Turkish).

In short: Alantron stands accused of double-selling pricewire.com.

ICANN’s compliance team has been unable to get its hands on the underlying transaction data despite repeated attempts because Alantron apparently doesn’t have it.

Its suspension notice alleges that Alantron was running two registration systems in parallel and that they weren’t talking to each other, resulting in the same name being sold to two parties.

Read ICANN’s suspension notice in PDF format here.

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Watch ICANN approve some new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, February 20, 2012, Domain Policy

In ICANN’s world, the current new top-level domains application period is actually the fourth, not the first.

As well as the 2000 “proof of concept” round, there was the sponsored gTLD round that kicked off at the end of 2003, and the ongoing IDN ccTLD Fast Track round from 2009.

I’ve finally got around to uploading to YouTube the video of the November 16, 2000 ICANN board meeting at which .info, .biz, .name, .pro, .museum, .coop and .aero were approved.

It was a pivotal moment in the history of the domain name system, particularly starting at the 5:46 mark, when the tide turned against Afilias’ application for .web, in favor of the less attractive four-character .info.

The main reason for the switch was Image Online Design’s competing application. IOD had been running .web in an alternate root for a few years before applying to ICANN.

If the internet had had a .web for the last decade, I believe conversations we’re having about new gTLDs would be very different today.

With .web expected to be a contested gTLD this time around — perhaps by some of the same companies that applied last time — expect this 11-year-old ICANN board meeting to be cited regularly in the near future.

The video was recorded by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard and encoded in RealPlayer format, which in 2000 meant pretty poor-quality audio and video.

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Tucows co-founder takes hard line on .club gTLD

Kevin Murphy, February 20, 2012, Domain Registries

.CLUB Domains LLC says it has secured funding for its .club generic top-level domain application, and says it is ready to go to an ICANN auction if necessary.

CEO Colin Campbell, a Tucows co-founder, blogged today that the funding deal comes along with “contingent financing… to ensure the company wins the top level domain in an auction.”

Apparently a few other companies have privately revealed that they are also applying for .club, but .CLUB Domains claims that it has no intention of negotiating with them. Campbell wrote:

Unfortunately ICANN’s process has encouraged some speculators to apply for the gTLD with no intention of actually running the top level domain but simply negotiating with legitimate operators. We have been approached by a number of companies who are applying for .Club. Our belief is that is best not to negotiate with these companies or individuals but win the name through an open and fair auction process.

This is a prime example of why revealing new gTLD plans before April 12 may not be the best business strategy — they invite competition from insiders who want a piece of your action.

Whether .CLUB Domains’s hard-line stance on competing applications will help reduce the field for .club — or whether rivals will try to call its bluff — remains to be seen.

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CentralNic working with .mls new gTLD bidder

Kevin Murphy, February 20, 2012, Domain Registries

MLS Domains has contracted with CentralNic to provide the back-end registry for its .mls new top-level domain application, which it expects to be contested.

MLS in this context stands for Multiple Listing Service, a form of real estate listing aggregation service common in the US.

MLS Domains is already selling .mls preregistrations, at $800 a pop, to qualifying MLS companies, which will partially fund its application.

Company president Bob Bemis said in a press release that CentralNic was selected due to its experience with “novel TLDs”:

we expect no more than two or three thousand second-level domains ever to be registered on .MLS, so we need a registry partner who can provide a high level of service for a relatively small market of customers.

CentralNic sells sub-domains in alternative suffixes such as uk.com, gb.com and us.org. It manages these domains as if they were regular gTLDs, offering a Whois service, UDRP, etc.

The registry will also provide an integrated, affiliated registrar for the .mls project, MLS Domains said.

That’s if the company’s application is successful, of course.

.mls is expected to be contested by the Chinese owner of mls.com – Nanning Billin Network Ltd has applied for a US trademark on the gTLD.

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