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Panel says .sport and .sports are confusingly similar

Kevin Murphy, August 22, 2013, Domain Registries

Olympics-backed new gTLD applicant SportAccord has won a String Confusion Objection against Donuts, with an arbitration panel finding that .sport and .sports are too similar to coexist.

It’s the second SCO case involving a plural to go against Donuts, after the shock .pet/.pets decision last week.

While the judgment is sure to fuel the debate about singular and plural gTLD coexistence, the strings in question in this case do have some unique characteristics.

As panelist M Scott Donahey noted, .sport is both singular and a collective noun, making it essentially a plural and synonymous with .sports.

The sentences “I like sports” and “I like sport” both make sense and mean the same thing. The same could not be said for, for example, “I like car” or “I like pet”.

Donahey was also persuaded by the argument that because “sport” is also a French word meaning the same thing, the fact that “sports” and “sport” are pronounced the same in French means the two strings confusingly similar aurally. He wrote:

The convergence of all these similarities, the fact that the words look very similar in English and sound the same in French, and that the words can be used interchangeably as nouns in English to indicate the panorama of sporting activities, and that the words are interchangeable when used as adjectives in English, all lead the Expert to conclude that it is probable that confusion will arise in the mind of the average, reasonable internet user.

The panelist had access to the rulings in the .pets v .pet case (cited by SportAccord) and the .car v cars case (which went the other way and was cited by Donuts).

Donahey’s ruling is notable also because of what he explicitly declined to consider, namely: the possible harms that could be created by string confusion. He wrote:

Objector’s many references to possible fraud, deceit, cybersquatting or other types of abuse through the use of the gTLD proposed by Applicant are in the nature of a legal rights objection, and mere speculation, and are unworthy of any consideration by an Expert in a string confusion analysis.

In other words, he focused just on the visual, aural and semantic similarity of the two strings. It’s going to be hard for anyone to argue that he overstepped the bounds of an SCO, which has happened following other decisions.

All in all it seems like a pretty sensible decision (pdf). It’s hard to fault Donahey’s logic.

(As an aside, I’ve started to notice that the SCO decisions with the soundest reasoning seem to be coming from panelists, such as Donahey, with extensive experience adjudicating UDRP complaints).

If the ruling stands — that is, if ICANN does not reopen the plurals/singulars policy debate — Donuts’ application for .sports will be forced into a contention set with the two applications for .sport.

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New gTLDs: 23 community objections withdrawn

Kevin Murphy, August 21, 2013, Domain Registries

Almost a quarter of Community Objections against new gTLDs have been terminated without a decision, according to International Chamber of Commerce documentation.

The withdrawals leave the way open for the applied-for gTLDs .insure, .realty, .realestate, .cruises, .careers and .bio to proceed unencumbered by any objections at all.

In total 23 Community Objections, of the original 104 reported by ICANN, have been dropped. Two of the original 23 Limited Public Interest Objections have also been terminated, according to the ICC.

The terminated Community Objections seem to fall into a few categories.

Objections against applications for .autoinsurance, .carinsurance, .health, .mail and .patagonia appear to have been stopped because the applications themselves were withdrawn.

The Independent Objector, Alain Pellet, has withdrawn one Limited Public Interest — .health — and three Community objections — .patagonia, .indians, .hospital.

These seem to have been yanked due to either application withdrawals, matching objections filed by third parties, or by Governmental Advisory Committee advice.

Applications facing one fewer objection — but not zero objections — include those for .insurance, .broker, .hoteis, .hoteles, .health, and .kid.

GAC advice remains a concern for many of the affected applicants, even those that no longer face the uncertainty and expense of the objection process.

Donuts seems to have fared best from the terminations. Its .careers and .cruise bids seem to be the only ones to have emerged uncontested and with no outstanding objections or GAC advice.

The terminations were revealed in an updated list of objections published by the ICC on Monday.

The updated data is now indexed and searchable on the all-new, super-duper DI PRO Application Tracker.

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GM down to one gTLD bid after dropping .chevy

Kevin Murphy, August 21, 2013, Domain Registries

General Motors looks set to leave the new gTLD program completely, after dumping its application for .chevy.

It’s the fourth of GM’s five dot-brand gTLD bids to be withdrawn after .chevrolet, .cadillac and .gmc. Only .buick remains in the Initial Evaluation process.

Of the 116 new gTLD applications to be withdrawn to date, 55 have been uncontested and for single-registrant zones. Almost all of the 55 applied-for strings are famous brands.

It would be wrong to assume that each of these was a “defensive” application — some represent discontinued brands — but it’s still a worryingly high number, representing over $10 million in ICANN fees.

That said, it’s still less than 3% of the total applications submitted in the current round.

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Registrar rapped for failing to transfer UDRP domain

Kevin Murphy, August 20, 2013, Domain Registrars

The domain name registrar Gal Comm has been warned by ICANN that it risks losing its accreditation for failing to transfer a cybersquatted name to Home Depot.

The compliance notice (pdf) concerns the domain name homedpeot.com, which was lost in a UDRP filed in early March and decided on April 21.

According to ICANN, Gal Comm, which has about 30,000 gTLD domains under management, failed to transfer the domain within 10 days of finding out about the decision, as required under the policy.

Whois records compiled by DomainTools show that the domain was instead deleted at in early April, and subsequently re-registered with a different registrar, where it’s currently under dubious-looking privacy.

According to the ICANN compliance notice, Gal Comm says that it deleted the domain because it received a Whois inaccuracy complaint about it.

Assuming that’s correct (and the Whois back in March was blatantly false) we have an interesting tension between policies that seems to have caused a slip-up at the registrar.

But registrars are supposed to lock domains they manage after they become aware of UDRP actions, so allowing the domain to delete seems to be a breach of the policy.

ICANN has given Gal Comm until September 10 to produce its records relating to the domain — and pay past-due accreditation fees — or face possible de-accreditation.

It’s very rare for ICANN to send compliance notices to registrars related to UDRP implementation.

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dotShabaka Diary — Day 5

Kevin Murphy, August 20, 2013, Domain Registries

Today, the fifth installment of dotShabaka Registry’s journal, charting its progress towards becoming one of the first new gTLDs to go live, written by general manager Yasmin Omer.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

We thought it would be timely to offer a recap of our Pre-Delegation Testing (PDT) experience to date.

Prior to PDT

We entered the PDT process with confidence due to our positive experience during beta testing. While we had lots of questions and concerns before entering the PDT beta program, particularly with documentation and test cases, we remained positive because there was constant communication between ourselves and the PDT Service Provider (IIS).

Prior to entering the first production PDT, we found all issues were resolved efficiently. We were also able to speak with ICANN to clarify some of the more vexing issues we’d faced during the PDT Beta program. We were also thankful that Patrik Hildingsson, the Production Manager for PDT (at IIS), even reached out personally to warn us of some documentation issues they’d not yet had time to resolve.

Our experience with the PDT Helpdesk had improved significantly through the process, which is a credit to all those involved.

During PDT

When we finally entered the PDT testing window two weeks ago, there was a noticeable drop in dialogue between ourselves and the PDT Service Provider. This was not necessarily a concern as everything appeared to be going fine, although our technical logs were not showing a great deal of activity. We assume that no news is good news. However, one suggested area for improvement would be an increase in communication during the testing phase, even if it’s an email to say everything is fine and we have no concerns. The lack of communication had our technical team biting their nails everyday while they nervously watched the logs.

By the Wednesday of the second week, we sent an email to ask if there were any problems and if the third week of PDT (described by ICANN as the remedy period) would be required. The response was a little vague, but we think we’re in the clear and the testing is complete. While the system status has not changed, there has been no activity in our logs since last week, suggesting the third week is not required. Fingers crossed.

Overall, we are happy with the process and wish other applicants the best of luck with their PDT. One small tip we can offer is that the data submission window closes at 11:59 UTC on the Friday before your PDT appointment. Don’t mistake this as 23:59 UTC, or you’ll miss out. We uploaded our documents well in advance, but some of our staff almost got caught out when discussing when to hit the “submit” button. Luckily there were keen observers on our internal mailing list and no mistake was made.

Good luck!

Read previous and future diary entries here.

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