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DomainTools.co sells for $2,500

Kevin Murphy, February 23, 2012, Domain Sales

Somebody has just paid out $2,500 for the domain name domaintools.co, according to Sedo.

I guess not even the most savvy domain name industry companies are immune to typosquatting.

Given that the price is just below what you might expect to pay for a cheap UDRP complaint, but more than the domain is probably worth alone, I assume the buyer is DomainTools itself.

According to DomainTools (the historical Whois service, not the company), domaintools.co has been in the hands of a Chinese registrant since .co went live in July 2010.

The domain, which is parked, is currently in escrow.

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Architelos makes $1 million in first year

Kevin Murphy, February 23, 2012, Domain Services

The new gTLD consultancy Architelos took in revenue of over $1 million in its just-concluded first year of operations, according to the company.

That impressive sum came from a combination of consulting fees and software licenses for its Business Case Builder, which helps new gTLD applicants model their financial outlook.

Named clients include Verisign, Nominet, .music applicant Far Further and the Canadian Internet Registry Authority, according to Architelos.

Company founder and CEO Alexa Raad earned her chops leading the .mobi and .org registries before going independent.

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Olympics warming to new gTLD bid?

Kevin Murphy, February 23, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN’s new generic top-level domains Applicant Guidebook may be modified to make it clear that the International Olympic Committee can apply for .olympic if it wants to.

That’s judging by the current state of negotiations in an ICANN working group set up to give special protection to Olympic and Red Cross/Red Crescent trademarks.

Currently, the Guidebook contains a multilingual list of strings related to the Olympic and Red Cross brands that are completely banned from delegation as gTLDs.

But a GNSO working group seems to be rapidly veering towards a recommendation that the ban should be waived if the IOC and Red Cross decide to apply.

The IOC and Red Cross would therefore be able to get their hands on .olympic and .redcross.

Both organizations are closely involved in these talks, which suggests that they may not be entirely hostile to the idea of running their own dot-brand gTLDs after all.

The GNSO working group is also considering the idea that the Olympic and Red Cross trademarks should be protected by string similarity reviews, which is not the case currently.

This could mean, for example, that non-identical gTLDs such as .olympus might have to get IOC backing if they want their applications approved.

The GNSO Council is expected to vote to approve or reject the recommendations at its meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica next month.

It’s not clear whether this would give ICANN enough time to rubber-stamp the decision before the new gTLD application window closes to new applicants March 29.

The decision would not be non-controversial, however. Some ICANN community members are not in favor of granting special trademark protections to anyone.

The GNSO working group has also been tasked by the Governmental Advisory Committee with coming up with second-level protections for the Olympics and Red Cross, but this policy work is unlikely to bear fruit until after the new gTLD application window closes.

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ICANN avoids bogus time-zone lawsuit

Kevin Murphy, February 23, 2012, Domain Policy

The company alleging that the critical internet time-zone database infringes its copyright has dropped its lawsuit, admitting that you can’t copyright historical facts.

ICANN took over maintenance of the TZ in October, after astrology software maker Astrolabe sued Arthur David Olson and Paul Eggert, who had managed it for nearly 30 years.

The database is used by countless applications and ubiquitous programming platforms, and ICANN considers it a “an essential service on the Internet” and therefore within its remit.

Astrolabe sued in the belief that the database stole copyrighted information from its own software. ICANN was not named in the complaint, even after it took over the TZ.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation helped in the defense of the case, and yesterday announced that Astrolabe has dropped the suit, apologized, and promised not to sue again.

According to the EFF, Astrolabe said:

Astrolabe’s lawsuit against Mr. Olson and Mr. Eggert was based on a flawed understanding of the law. We now recognize that historical facts are no one’s property and, accordingly, are withdrawing our Complaint. We deeply regret the disruption that our lawsuit caused for the volunteers who maintain the TZ database, and for Internet users.

In a statement on its web site today, Astrolabe says:

Moon void in Pisces. Feelings shape the trends; settings and environments shape feelings. True sacrifice succeeds; passive/aggressive behavior fails.

Indeed.

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Strickling says ICANN needs a stronger bottom

Kevin Murphy, February 22, 2012, Domain Policy

National Telecommunications & Information Administration chief Larry Strickling has called for ICANN to strengthen its decision-making processes.

In a speech at the University of Colorado earlier this month, Strickling called out ICANN’s board of directors in particular, for its habit of choosing between competing views when the ICANN community fails to reach consensus via the multi-stakeholder process.

The speech went over ground covered in other recent addresses – namely, how ICANN fits into the wider international political picture.

The US is worried about moves by some nations within the Internet Governance Forum and the International Telecommunications Union that threaten to make the internet an exclusively government-run enterprise.

Developing nations in particular are likely to support such moves, as the internet is causing them to lose the revenue they make by terminating international phone calls.

An ICANN that makes decisions without true bottom-up stakeholder consensus plays into the hands of those who would replace it with a new treaty organization, Strickling suggested.

According to his prepared remarks, he said:

Organizations that convene or manage multistakeholder processes have to be vigilant to make sure they do not inadvertently interfere with the effort to reach consensus.

the ICANN Board increasingly finds itself forced to pick winners and losers because its policy development process does not always yield true consensus-based policy making. This is not healthy for the organization.

If stakeholders understand that they can appeal directly to the Board to advocate for their particular policy position, they have less incentive to engage in the tough discussions to reach true consensus with all stakeholders during the policy-development process.

Ironically, ICANN’s current public comment period into defensive new gTLD applications – which could lead to changes to its trademark protection mechanisms – was opened precisely because Strickling himself, under pressure from Congress, appealed directly to the board.

But I suspect he was actually referring to the Association of National Advertisers, which scarcely participated in the development of the new gTLD program before it was finalized but has been loudly threatening ICANN about it ever since.

As well as calling for more participation from industry, Strickling also stressed the need for more governments to get involved in ICANN, “finding a way to bring them willingly, if not enthusiastically, into the tent of multistakeholder policy-making”.

But what would an ICANN that waits for true stakeholder consensus before the board makes a decision look like?

Strickling did not offer a solution in his address, but he did refer to the Governmental Advisory Committee’s new formal definition of consensus.

Without explicitly endorsing the model, he described it like this:

if the group reaches a position to which members do not object, it becomes the consensus view even though some members may not affirmatively support the position.

I’m finding it difficult to imagine ICANN continuing to function if its board of directors also had to observe this kind of “consensus” among stakeholders before making a decision.

Trademark owners and registrars not objecting to each other’s stuff?

What would I write about?

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