Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts ticket compo winners announced

Kevin Murphy, September 26, 2013, Domain Services

The winners of the recent DI prize draw, with three free tickets for the conference at stake, have been confirmed.

To enter the competition, you simply had to leave a comment on DI completing the sentence “The biggest challenge facing new gTLDs next year will be…”

I read all the submissions and found them all interesting but ultimately the comments were completely irrelevant in determining the winners, which were selected by three random numbers generated by

The winners were:

  • Colin Campbell of .CLUB Domains.
  • Jeffrey Sass of .CLUB Domains.
  • Phil Buckingham of DotAdvice.

It definitely looks weird that two people from the same company won tickets. Weird enough that for half a second I wondered whether justice would be better serviced if were to fix a different outcome.

But I didn’t. If it looks unjust, blame randomness. Fate’s a bitch.

Many thanks to all who entered. There were some interesting comments.

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Authentic Web wants to be dot-brands’ pocket registrar

Kevin Murphy, September 25, 2013, Domain Services

Toronto-based start-up Authentic Web launched today with a set of workflow automation tools for dot-brand gTLD registries.

Because ICANN requires all new gTLDs, even the closed ones, to make registrations via accredited registrars, there’s often talk about dot-brands signing up with “pocket” registrars.

That’s what Authentic Web wants to be, according to CEO Peter LaMantia. The company is focused on the dot-brand market.

The company’s new Brand Registry Asset Manager will provide a way for dot-brands to control the registration process workflow so that only approved second-level domains are registered, he said.

For example, a smaller dot-brand might have a single person responsible for registering all domains in the gTLD, while a multinational might have multiple layers of delegated power.

Instead of plonking down a credit card at Go Daddy to buy a .com domain, a marketing manager would place a request into the BRAM system and have it approved up a chain of command before the ultimate Add command was made with the registry.

Authentic Web would usually act as the registrar middleman, but the plan is to also integrate the software with third-party registrars.

The software will also give dot-brands greater visibility over their portfolios, LaMantia said.

Many big brands already have a hard time keeping track of their existing portfolios of domain names in gTLDs they do not control, he said.

“I know a lot of companies that do this on Excel sheets,” he said. “If they own the registry they’re not going to want to do that. That’s the hole in the market.”

BRAM is web-based and hosted by Authentic Web, so it won’t at first integrate with existing enterprise identity systems, though LaMantia said integration tools are on the road-map.

The software will be priced on a monthly subscription basis, with a per-domain component.

LaMantia, who founded Authentic Web last year, previously was president of the registrar

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ICANN to publish new gTLD contract changes

Kevin Murphy, September 25, 2013, Domain Registries

ICANN has decided to start publishing red-lined versions of its new gTLD Registry Agreements, so applicants can see what special terms ICANN is willing to accept.

It’s a reversal of its previous position, and follows complaints from applicants and back-end providers.

So far ICANN has signed almost 50 new gTLD contracts, all of which have been published, but it’s not easy to compare them all to the baseline Registry Agreement found in the Applicant Guidebook.

By publishing versions with the changes highlighted, applicants will be able to go into contract negotiations with a better idea of how far ICANN is willing to bend.

ICANN said today:

Upon further consideration, ICANN has concluded that publishing redlined versions of Registry Agreements would be helpful to the entire ICANN community, and would also support ICANN’s efforts to provide operational transparency.

It added that so far there have been no substantial changes in the contracts it’s signed, apart from gTLD-specific Public Interest Commitments and approved Registry Services.

It will start publishing the redlines next month.

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Donuts’ trademark block list goes live, pricing revealed

Kevin Murphy, September 25, 2013, Domain Registries

Donuts’ Domain Protected Marks List, which gives trademark owners the ability to defensively block their marks across the company’s whole portfolio of gTLDs, has gone live.

The service goes above and beyond what new gTLD registries are obliged to offer by ICANN.

As a “block” service, in which names will not resolve, it’s reminiscent of the Sunrise B service offered by ICM Registry at .xxx’s launch, which was praised and cursed in equal measure.

But with DPML, trademark owners also have the ability to block “trademark+keyword” names, for example, so Pepsi could block “drinkpepsi” or “pepsisucks”.

It’s not a wildcard, however. Companies would have to pay for each trademark+keyword string they wanted blocking.

DPML covers all of the gTLDs that Donuts plans to launch, which could be as many as 300. It currently has 28 registry agreements with ICANN and 272 applications remaining in various stages of evaluation.

Trademark owners will only be able to sign up to DPML if their marks are registered with the Trademark Clearinghouse under the “use” standard required to participate in Sunrise periods.

Donuts is also excluding an unspecified number of strings it regards as “premium”, so the owners of marks matching those strings will be out of luck, it seems.

Blocks will be available for a minimum of five years an maximum of 10 years. After expiration, they can be renewed with minimum terms of one year.

The company has not disclose its wholesale pricing, but registrars we’ve found listing the service on their web sites so far (101domain and EnCirca) price it between $2,895 and $2,995 for a five-year registration.

It looks pricey, but it’s likely to be extraordinarily good value compared to the alternative of Sunrise periods.

If Donuts winds up with 200 gTLDs in its portfolio, a $3,000 price tag ($600 per year) works out to a defensive registration cost of $3 per domain per gTLD per year.

If it winds up with all 300, the price would be $2.

That’s in line (if we’re assuming non-budget pricing comparisons and registrars’ DPML markup), with Donuts co-founder Richard Tindal’s statement earlier this year: that DPML would be 5% to 10% the cost of a regular registration.

Tindal also spoke then about a way for rival trademark owners to “unblock” matching names, so Apple the record company could unblock a DPML on obtained by Apple the computer company, for example.

Donuts is encouraging trademark owners to participate before its first gTLDs goes live, which it expects to happen later this year.

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CentralNic reports profitable first half

Kevin Murphy, September 25, 2013, Domain Registries

CentralNic today issued its first financial statements since floating on London’s Alternative Investment Market earlier this month.

The company is profitable, reporting profit before tax for the first half of 2013 that almost doubled to $636,000 on revenue that was up 16% at £1,735 million ($2.7 million).

Revenue was down substantially and profit more or less flat sequentially, however. In the second half of 2012, the company took profits of £593,000 on revenue of £2.9 million ($4.6 million).

Seasonality? One-time fees from its new gTLD applicant clients? CentralNic didn’t say.

The H12013 results do not include any revenue from its deal with Go Daddy, which started selling .la domains in July, but it did include revenue from partnerships with two Chinese registrars.

Chairman John Swingewood said in a statement to the market:

The Company is undergoing sustained growth resulting from increased demand for our domain names, establishing new retail channels and securing new inventory. What is more impressive is that these results are yet to include revenues from sales of our pipeline of new Top-Level Domains, which include .college, .bar, .wiki and .xyz, for which the first launch activities are due to start at the end of the year.

The company, which is signed up to provide back-end registry services for 14 uncontested and 39 contested new gTLDs, raised £5 million in its IPO on September 3.

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