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Directi sells 4,000 .pw domains in first half hour

Kevin Murphy, March 25, 2013, Domain Registries

PW Registry, the Direci unit looking after the .pw registry, said it received orders for 4,000 domain names in its first 30 minutes of general availability today.

Disappointing? It’s certainly not up to the standard of, say, .co, which was well into six figures in the same period when it launched a few years ago.

But .pw’s ambitions weren’t quite as lofty as .co’s. It’s the ccTLD for Palau, and its chosen meaning of “professional web” isn’t nearly as intuitive or valuable as .co’s “company”.

Still, it’s early days, and Directi says it saw a reasonable amount of domainer action during its landrush phase.

Landrush and sunrise period numbers have not been disclosed, but the company said that Apple, Pfizer, Volkswagen and Nokia obtained their trademarks during sunrise.

PW Registry has 110 registrars, including many of the big ones, selling its names.

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Chehade to play hard-ball over unilateral right to amend?

Kevin Murphy, March 25, 2013, Domain Policy

ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade has reportedly indicated that the unilateral right to amend powers ICANN wants to put in its registry and registrar contracts are non-negotiable.

Speaking at a meeting of the Association of National Advertisers last week, Chehade is reported to have said: “I’m not going to back off this one.”

He is understood to have been referring to the changes ICANN wants to impose on the base new gTLD Registry Agreement and the Registrar Accreditation Agreement.

Amy Bivins of Bloomberg BNA’s Electronic Commerce & Law Report caught the speech live and tweeted the following:

Bivins’ full report is available behind BNA’s paywall.

The unilateral right to amend is just about the most controversial thing ICANN has proposed in a while.

It would give ICANN’s board of directors the power to make changes to both agreements in situations where registrars or registries cannot agree among themselves to a “special amendment” but there’s agreement by other community members that the change is required.

Registries and registrars argue that a contract in which one party has the power to change the agreement without the consent of the other is not really a contract at all.

But ICANN says the powers are needed, partly to redress existing imbalances: the fact that the RAA and RA both last for 10 years and that the RA has a presumptive right of renewal.

Without the right to change the RA over the protests of the registries, it’s possible that in future proposed changes could be vetoed by registries whose interests are not aligned with the “public interest”, ICANN argues.

ICANN says that it’s impossible to know how consolidation, future new gTLD rounds and power shifts in the ICANN community will affect the balance of power, meaning it needs a way to resist a registry choke-hold should the situation arise.

I suspect the fact that it’s taken about three years to get close to adding the recommendations of law enforcement relating to registrar conduct to the RAA may also have something to do with it.

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Five interesting nuggets from the first batch of gTLD evaluations

Kevin Murphy, March 25, 2013, Domain Registries

ICANN gave many in the industry cause for celebration on Friday when it released its first batch of 27 new gTLD applications that have passed Initial Evaluation.

The plan is to release 30 per week, ramping up to 100 at some point in future, but three applications in the first 30 still have change requests or clarifying questions being processed.

Here are some interesting bits of information we’ve gleaned from the first batch.

Donuts has passed its background checks

Donuts has had the first of its new gTLD applications approved. This means that the evaluation team doing background screening found no reason to be fail the company due to its executives’ track records.

During the public comment period last year, Donuts’ opponents said the company should be barred from getting any new gTLDs because of its close ties to Demand Media, a company with a record of adverse UDRP decisions.

It was also claimed that a Donuts director was involved in cybersquatting the Olympic and Disney brands, but it turned out the director in question had left the company in late 2011.

But ICANN’s evaluation team appears to have given Donuts the all clear.

The Donuts application that has passed Initial Evaluation, for .商店 (shop/store), is one of 199 applications, each filed by unique corporate shells, that share a parent, Dozen Donuts LLC.

The balance of Donuts’ applying companies are owned by Covered TLD LLC, believed to be its joint venture with Demand Media. All 307 are signed up to use Demand Media’s registry back-end.

Seven IDN scripts passed IE

New gTLDs in seven internationalized domain name scripts — Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, Hindi, Korean, German, Cyrillic — have passed through Initial Evaluation.

Transliterations of .com/.net are apparently fine

Some of Verisign’s applications for transliterations of .com and .net in scripts such as Chinese and Hindi have passed IE, meaning the evaluators weren’t worried about possible clashes with their legacy equivalents.

There’s been some concern from some parts of the world that because the applied-for strings are meaningless in the relevant languages, but sound like “com” and “net” when spoken, that it could cause confusion.

New back-end providers have cause for celebration

While there was little doubt that back-end providers Verisign, Neustar, Afilias and CORE would receive passing grades by ICANN — they all run gTLDs already — new market entrants did not have reasons for the same confidence.

However, ARI Registry Services, Demand Media, CentralNIC, KISA, KSRegistry and KNET are all named back-ends for passing applications in the first batch.

This should come as a cause for celebration for these companies, and a relief for their clients.

Because many applications used the same boilerplate back-end text, there’s good reason to believe that other bids using these registry providers are likely to pass the technical portion of Initial Evaluation too.

Afilias doesn’t have any passes yet

Top-three player Afilias, so far, does not have any passing apps.

One of its clients is at position #7 in the priority queue, but it’s one of the three applications in the top 30 to be still chasing follow-up questions or change requests with ICANN.

Probably nothing to worry about here.

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First 27 new gTLDs pass evaluation

Kevin Murphy, March 22, 2013, Domain Registries

ICANN has started reporting the results of Initial Evaluation in its new gTLD program as promised, delivering a passing grade to 27 applications today.

So far, no bids appear to have explicitly flunked IE, judging by ICANN’s web site.

However, some of the applications in the top 27 in the prioritization queue are still flagged as being in IE — the Japanese Chinese-script dot-brand .淡马锡 and Samsung’s .삼성.

ICANN said:

For some applications Initial Evaluation results were not yet available for one or more possible reasons such as: pending change requests, clarifying questions, or follow-up with applicants regarding missing information. The results for these applications will be published as soon as the relevant processes are completed.

Due to the way the queue was rigged, all 27 passes are for internationalized domain names, such as Verisign’s .net transliteration .大拿 and Amazon’s Japanese .fashion (.ファッション).

Those that have passed IE and have no objections and no contention can now pass in to predelegation testing and contract negotiations with ICANN.

All IE results are expected to be released by August.

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Go Daddy poaches another Yahoo exec

Kevin Murphy, March 21, 2013, Domain Registrars

Go Daddy has hired another Yahoo executive to join its senior management.

James Carroll, senior vice president of the consumer and global platform group, is to head Go Daddy’s international business, according to All Things D.

Go Daddy is of course now headed by former Yahoo Blake Irving, who has made international expansion one of his key growth strategies.

Irving hired Carroll at Yahoo too, All Things D reported.

With Yahoo apparently undergoing a shakeup under its new CEO Marrissa Meyer, it’s not impossible we might see more execs winding up at Go Daddy before long.

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