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At-Large votes to object to .health gTLD bids, but Afilias gets a pass

Kevin Murphy, March 15, 2013, Domain Policy

ICANN’s At-Large Advisory Committee has voted to object to three of the four applications for the .health gTLD.

Afilias, which is one of the applicants, will not receive an ALAC objection. By a single vote, ALAC decided not to go after its application.

Fourteen of the 15-member ALAC panel voted on Tuesday. For DotHealth LLC’s bid, the yes/no/abstain vote was 8/3/3; dot Health Ltd’s was 10/3/1, and Donuts’ was 10/3/1.

Afilias managed to get one extra “no” vote (its result was 7/4/3). so with only 50% of the voters voting “yes”, the motion to object failed.

The ALAC did not vote on .健康, which means “healthy” or “wellness” in Chinese, despite earlier indications that it would.

The identities of the voters and the way they voted does not appear to have been revealed.

The objections will be of the Community or Limited Public Interest variety, and paid for by ICANN.

Healthcare-related gTLDs are already the most controversial of those being applied for.

Each .health bid received four Governmental Advisory Committee Early Warnings late last year, and earlier this week the Independent Objector’s list of 24 objections was dominated by medically oriented strings.

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New hires at Donuts, DomainDiction and 101domain

Kevin Murphy, March 14, 2013, Domain Services

It’s been a busy week in the industry for executive switcheroos, with Donuts, DomainDiction and 101domain all announcing senior-level hires.

Today it emerged that Elaine Pruis, a long-time key member of the Minds + Machines team, has jumped to rival new gTLD applicant Donuts, where she’s now director of operations.

That’s quite a surprising move, coming so soon before gTLDs start getting delegated and — perhaps more importantly — contention set resolution deadlines start closing in.

DomainDiction, the gTLD-focused PR agency, has meanwhile lost one top expert and gained two others.

Pinky Brand, an alum of .mobi, Verisign and Iron Mountain, has gone solo, launching his own consulting business under the name [ PINKY ] • BRAND.

Former NetNames strategy director Stephane Van Gelder, an occasional DI guest poster, has been brought on as lobbyist and copywriter, while IP lawyer Bart Lieben has been hired for his considerable expertise in sunrise periods.

Neither man is on DomainDiction’s exclusive payroll, and continue to have other projects.

Finally, 101domain yesterday announced that it’s hired Joe Alagna as head of channel development. Alagna until recently worked in the registry world, as CentralNic’s general manager for North America.

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Amazon and Google hit as Independent Objector files 24 new gTLD objections

Kevin Murphy, March 13, 2013, Domain Registries

Alain Pellet, the new gTLD program’s Independent Objector, has filed 24 official objections against new gTLD applications.

Five of its 13 Community Objections are against dot-brands that have geographical meanings — Amazon’s .amazon and three translations, an outdoor clothing maker’s bid for .patagonia and a Mumbai cricket team’s application for .indians.

Other recipients are the two applications for .charity and the one for the Chinese translation .慈善.

Every other objection is related in some way to health.

The remaining six Community Objections target .med, .health, .healthcare and .hospital bids.

Limited Public Interest Objections have also been filed against the four .health applications, .healthcare, the four .med bids and the one .hospital.

That’s right, the .hospital and .healthcare applications, both filed by Donuts subsidiaries, have been hit twice.

Donuts is not the only one: Google’s .med bid has a Community Objection and a Limited Public Interest objection too.

The reasons for the objections do not appear to have been published yet.

The objections stand to delay each of the target apps by about five months, according to ICANN’s timetable.

The full list of IO objections can be found here.

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Defensive registrations with Donuts could be 95% cheaper than normal domains

Kevin Murphy, March 12, 2013, Domain Registries

Portfolio gTLD applicant Donuts plans to offer trademark owners defensive registrations at 5% to 10% of the cost of a normal domain name registration, co-founder Richard Tindal said today.

Speaking at the Digital Marketing & gTLD Strategy Congress here in New York, Tindal also revealed some of Donuts’ current thinking about the Domain Protected Marks List service outlined in its gTLD applications.

DPML, which was created by Donuts rather than ICANN, is a little like ICM Registry’s Sunrise B service for .xxx — trademark owners will be able to block domains related to their trademarks.

DPML domains will not resolve, and there’ll be no annual renewal fee.

But there will likely be several differences with .xxx, as Tindal explained.

How to get a block

Each DPML listing will block a string across all of Donuts’ gTLDs, which could be as many as 307 (if Donuts wins all of its contention sets), potentially reducing administrative headaches for trademark owners.

Second, while ICM only allowed strings to be blocked that exactly matched the trademark, Donuts’ standard will merely be that the blocked domain contains the trademarked string.

Trademark owners will have to buy a DPML listing for each string they want blocked, however. It’s not going to be a “wildcard” system. ING wouldn’t be able to block everything ending in “ing”.

If Microsoft wanted to block microsoft.tlds and microsoftwindows.tlds, it would have to request both of those strings separately, but the blocks would be place across every Donuts TLD.

The standard for inclusion is probably going to be that the trademark is listed in the official Trademark Clearinghouse, and that it would qualify for a Sunrise registration (ie, it’s actually being used).

Trademarks that qualify for the Trademark Claims service but not Sunrise would not, it seems, qualify for DPML.

Un-blocks

There’s also going to be a way for trademark owners to un-block domains that have been blocked by other trademark owners.

If Apple the gadget maker blocked the string “apple” across all Donuts gTLDs, for example, Apple Records would be able to unblock apple.music (if Donuts wins .music) if it had a trademark on “apple” in the TMCH.

The standard again would be that Apple Records qualified for a Sunrise, but the unblocking could actually happen long after the .music Sunrise period was over.

If Apple the gadget maker thought it might want to use apple.tld domains in future, its best best would be to register the domains during Sunrise, Tindal said.

Pricing

DPML listings would be available for either five or 10 years (Donuts hasn’t decided yet, but it’s leaning towards five) and pricing will probably be between 5% and 10% of the cost of registering the domains normally during general availability, Tindal said.

Let’s say, for example, that Donuts wins only a certain number of its contention sets and ends up launching 200 new gTLDs, each of which is priced at $10 per domain per year.

If the 5-10% price estimate holds, trademark owners would have to pay between $0.50 and $1 per string, per gTLD, per year. For a single trademark, that would be between $100 and $200 per year, or $500 to $1,000 over the five-year period of the block.

It doesn’t sound like there’s going to be an option for trademark owners to block their sensitive strings in only selected, relevant Donuts gTLDs using DPML. It’ll be all or none.

Donuts has not yet disclosed its pricing plans for any of its proposed gTLDs, so the numbers used here are of course just examples. They could be higher or lower when the domains come to market.

In addition, if the string in question is a “premium” generic word in one or more of Donuts’ gTLDs, the price of blocking it could head sharply north.

Tindal noted that the plans outlined during today’s conference session represent Donuts’ current thinking and may be subject to change.

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Two more gTLD bids kicked out of the program, but .kids gets ICANN funding

Kevin Murphy, March 12, 2013, Domain Services

Two more applications have been rejected from the new gTLD program, after they tried and failed to have their application fees subsidized by ICANN’s Applicant Support Program.

Three gTLDs were submitted for financial assistance, but ICANN’s Support Application Review Panel, delivering its results (pdf) today, decided that only one of them qualified for a cheapo bid.

DotKids Foundation Ltd, which is applying for .kids, is the lucky recipient of $138,000 worth of waived application fees. Its application now enters Initial Evaluation.

The applicants for .ummah (Ummah Digital Ltd) and .idn (NameShop), on the other hand, have been given a refund of the $47,000 application fee they paid and politely shown the door.

ICANN said: “applications that did not meet the threshold criteria for financial assistance will be excluded from further participation in this round of the New gTLD Program”.

That rule was introduced to prevent gaming — companies that asked for cheaper applications risked losing their applications if they failed to meet the requirements for support.

It doesn’t mean there was anything wrong with their gTLD applications, however.

The approval of funding for the DotKids Foundation is goodish news for people uncomfortable with Amazon’s closed gTLD land-grab — the retailer is the only other applicant for .kids.

While the .kids contention set remains, is pretty safe to say that Amazon will be able to utterly crucify its competition if the TLD goes to auction.

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Google-backed new gTLD industry group appears at WhatDomain.org

Kevin Murphy, March 12, 2013, Domain Registries

The formative domain name industry trade association that DI has blogged about a few times recently has found itself a web site.

The Google-backed initiative can be found now at WhatDomain.org, which currently carries a bit of brief information about the organization’s rough plans and a call for potential members to get in touch.

The site states:

We are organizing to help educate the world on the coming changes in the domain landscape and to support the interests of the domain name industry. We are inviting any organization with a similar interest in domains to join us in working to create and launch an organization that will enable us to work together to achieve these objectives.

The association will eventually have membership tiers and fees, but those details have yet to be arranged.

We understand that while new gTLD applicant Google is doing most of the “heavy lifting” getting the project off the ground, the company wants to go as arms-length as possible very quickly.

The first informal meeting of what may or may not become officially known as WhatDomain took place at during an intersessional ICANN meeting in Amsterdam this January.

The idea is to promote new gTLDs and domain names in general, raise the reputation of the industry and promote the universal acceptance of TLDs among software developers.

During a session here at the Digital Marketing & gTLD Strategy Congress in New York yesterday, ICANN head of stakeholder engagement Sally Costeron seemed to commit ICANN to help support the initiative.

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Confusion reigns over three “hijacked” ccTLDs

Kevin Murphy, March 12, 2013, Domain Registries

Control over three ccTLDs is currently up in the air due to the alleged hijacking of one of the registry operator’s domain names.

The TLDs for the Turks and Caicos Islands (.tc), the British Virgin Islands (.vg) and Grenada (.gd) are all nominally managed by a UK-based company called AdamsNames.

Last October, AdamsNames outsourced the back-end technical functions of the registry to KSRegistry, the registry sister company to German registrar Key-Systems.

But this week, it’s difficult to say who’s in charge any more.

KSRegistry, in an official statement, said yesterday that an unspecified “third party” had managed to take over the registry’s domain name, AdamsNames.net, and was operating a “shadow registry” there.

Today, the KSregistry GmbH, a hundred percent subsidiary of the Key-Systems GmbH, has learned that a third party has executed a transfer of the domain name adamsnames.net and now operates a shadow registry under this domain. According to the CEO of AdamsNames Ltd., Mr. Carsten Pauli, this transfer was not authorized by the registry operator.

Whois records show that the domain was transferred away from Key-Systems to Hexonet last week, and that the administrative contact changed from an address in London to an address in Istanbul.

The name on the records was Ertan Ulutas before and after the transfer.

So has Ulutas, by taking control over what is in effect the official registry web site, hijacked all three registries?

Statements appearing on AdamsNames.net this week tell a different story.

Whoever’s in control of the domain — presumably Ulutas — claims that the outfit is “currently experiencing a high level Corporate hijack from the minority shareholder Carsten Pauli and Key Systems GmbH.”

A statement today reads:

As you are all aware AdamsNames Ltd has been run by us for a while. Key Systems is our former Registry Backend provider. We recently noticed, the adamsnames.com domain, for which Key Systems was the Registrar had been illegally transferred into another account without any notice or authorisation from us.

Upon realising this we transferred our other gTLD domains to another Registrar. Due to this matter we lost trust in Key Systems GmbH and decided to run it ourselves. Please be aware that our Registry is fully operational.

All domains can be registered, renewed and updated as usual. We could not trust a company with three ccTLD’s if we could not trust them with one domain!

Whois records show that Pauli recently became the owner of AdamsNames.com. Ulutas was the previous owner. The domain is registered via Key-Systems.

KSRegistry, which has declined to comment beyond its prepared statement yesterday, said:

KSregistry GmbH still provides the technical back-end services for the ccTLDs .TC, .GD and .VG authorized by AdamsNames Ltd., but this is currently hampered by the actions of the third party.

In order to not endanger the integrity of the zone after addressing the issues, the Key-Systems GmbH as registrar has decided to not permit current modifications to domains under .TC, .GD and .VG. The resolution and renewal of the domains are not affected.

What seems to be happening here is that Pauli and Ulutas have had some kind of dispute, and that as a result the registrants and the reputation of three countries’ ccTLDs have been harmed.

Very amateurish.

UPDATE: Key-Systems founder and CEO Alexander Siffrin has issued the following updated statement in response to the latest claims on Adamsnames.net:

Key-Systems GmbH has at no time hijacked a domain name from Adamsnames Ltd. It has in the incident referred to by the party currently claiming to represent Adamsnames acted upon a request of the director of Adamsnames Ltd. who is also the signatory of the agreement outsourcing the technical backend of the registry to KSregistry GmbH.

On the other hand the transfer of the domain name adamsnames.net and with that the ability to change the management of the zone has to our knowledge been initiated without permission of Adamsnames Ltd.

It is noteworthy that at this time the domain names listed by the current technical operator do not list Adamsnames Ltd. as registrant:

ADAMSNAMES.NET
adamsnames.org
adamsnames.eu

You may draw your own conclusions.

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ICANN accredits .tk registry as registrar

Kevin Murphy, March 12, 2013, Domain Registrars

Freedom Registry, the company behind the oft-criticized .tk domain registry, seems to have been accredited as an ICANN registrar.

The new registrar business goes by the name OpenTLD. Its domain name currently bounces visitors to Freedom’s home page.

Freedom manages .tk, the ccTLD for tiny Tokelau. It’s the fastest-growing TLD — currently the second-largest ccTLD after Germany’s .de — because it’s free to register .tk domains.

As a result, it’s also regularly recognized by the Anti-Phishing Working Group as one of the most-abused TLDs out there, though the company says its business model allows it turn off abusive domains at will.

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Melbourne IT gets out of brand protection with $157m sale to CSC

Kevin Murphy, March 12, 2013, Domain Registrars

Corporation Service Company has acquired Melbourne IT’s flagship digital brand management service for a ridiculously expensive AUD 152.5 million ($157m).

The shock news takes Melbourne out of the high-margin defensive registration and brand monitoring market, leaving it as a basic domain registrar focused on small businesses.

For CSC, the deal leaves it with a considerably strengthened hand in the DBS space, which is poised to benefit from the massive influx of new gTLDs over the next few years.

It also means that all of the over 100 new gTLD applications Melbourne was supporting as a consultant will now be managed by CSC.

The price of AUD 152.5 million is far more than Melbourne IT could have hoped to ask for, equal to almost its entire market capitalization of AUD 160 million.

Melbourne has had a rocky time on the markets of late, and had previously disclosed that it was looking to sell off some units in order to appease shareholders and rationalize its business.

But DBS was considered a core business, bigger now than Melbourne’s regular domains business, and likely not for sale. CSC’s high-premium offer was too good, it seems, to be responsibly refused.

“While this was not a business that we had specifically earmarked for sale, given the value creation provided by the transaction, this was an opportunity which could not be ignored,” CEO Theo Hnarakis, said in a statement.

The deal follows the sale of MarkMonitor, a key Melbourne competitor, to Thomson Reuters last July. When it comes to brand protection in the domain name space, it’s a big boy’s game nowadays.

Melbourne will remain a domain registrar with over four million names under management.

The DBS business was formed in 2008, largely as a result of Melbourne’s purchase of Verisign’s brand services division for $50 million.

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TLD Health Check from DI is the first business intelligence tool for the new gTLD era

Kevin Murphy, March 11, 2013, Domain Services

DI today introduces TLD Health Check, an industry-first business intelligence service that enables users to quickly and easily monitor the performance of top-level domains.

TLD Health Check is software as a service. It allows anyone to not only track the growth of gTLDs new and old, but also to compare TLD popularity and abuse levels across the industry.

TLD Health Check is launching with 27 interactive charts and tables that make it simple for users to:

  • TLD Health Check screenshotMonitor the growth of gTLD registries. gTLD growth (or shrinkage) can be tracked against multiple criteria including domains under management, newly added domains, renewals and deleted domains. Based on official registry reports, the service also dynamically calculates metrics such as average registration periods, enabling users to gauge registrant confidence in each gTLD’s relevance and longevity.
  • Rank TLDs by popularity. TLDs can have lots of domains, but which TLDs are being visited most often by regular internet users? TLD Health Check aggregates TLD data from Alexa’s list of the top one million most-popular domain names, to figure out which TLDs web surfers actually use on a daily basis.
  • Compare abusive activity across 300+ TLDs. TLD Health Check calculates TLD abuse data from several major third-party malware and phishing domain lists, letting you instantly compare abuse levels between every live TLD.
  • Track cybersquatting levels by TLD. Drawing on a database of over 75,000 UDRP decisions, TLD Health Check lets you compare TLDs to see where the major cybersquatting enforcement is happening. DI PRO’s intelligent algorithms allow you to see only successful UDRP cases.
  • TLD Health Check screenshotMeasure registrar market share. Different registrars excel at selling different TLDs. TLD Health Check measures registrar growth and ranks companies by their market share in each TLD.
  • (Coming Soon) Monitor secondary market activity. Leveraging a database of tens of thousands of reported domain name sales, you can see where the secondary market action is.

The services is built on top of a massive database, over two years in the making, comprising hundreds of thousands of records dating back to 1999. Our data sets are updated hourly, daily, weekly and monthly.

Get Access

TLD Health Check screenshotTLD Health Check is currently in open subscriber beta, and we have an aggressive program of weekly feature upgrades and additions planned for the next few months.

The service can be accessed now by DI PRO subscribers, for no additional charge.

If you’re not already a PRO subscriber, please visit our subscriptions page to sign up for instant access.

New Monthly Subscription Option

To coincide with the launch of TLD Health Check, and in response to many reader requests, today we’re also announcing a new monthly subscription option for DI PRO.

Not only that, but any new subscriptions processed before March 15 will receive a perpetual $10-per-month discount if the subscriber uses the discount code NYC when subscribing.

DI is attending the Digital Marketing & gTLD Strategy Congress in New York today and tomorrow. Fellow attendees are welcome to request an in-person TLD Health Check demo.

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