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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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Demand Media hit with first new gTLD objection

Kevin Murphy, March 11, 2013, Domain Policy

With the deadline for filing objections against new gTLD applications fast approaching, the first such objection has been revealed.

Starting Dot, which has applied for .immo and other strings, has filed a String Confusion Objection against Demand Media’s .immobilien bid, according to the International Center for Dispute Resolution.

“Immobilien” is German for “homes” in the real estate context, while “immo” is a shorthand for the same term in a number of European languages.

The objection itself does not appear to have been published, but one can only assume that it’s based on the similarity of meaning between the two strings, rather than visual or audible confusion.

While it’s the first objection to be published, based on conversations with many interested parties I’m expecting a LOT more.

The deadline for filing objections using any of the four available mechanisms, is Wednesday.

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Chehade commits to grow the number of domain registrars in Africa

ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade has told African policymakers that he wants to make it easier for companies on the continent to become accredited registrars, saying he wants to grow the number five-fold in a year.

During a “Multistakeholder Internet Governance” meeting in Addis Ababa earlier this week, Chehade said he wants to see 20 more African registrars, in addition to the paltry five accredited today.

It can be hard for African firms to become accredited under ICANN’s rules due to assurances needed from banks and insurance companies, he said.

We committed to do our best. Dr Tarik Kamel and I made commitments yesterday. We will be talking to the African Development Bank, we will work with [the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa], we have relationships in the insurance industry. We will put our personal relationships — and I hope all of us cooperate on that — to change this.

We made a public commitment, that I may regret, that we will try as fast as we can by Durban to at least have some initial answers to facilitate this for the African community, because hopefully with your help and your assistance within a year we won’t be saying we have five accredited registrars, we’ll be saying we have 25.

The ICANN meeting in Durban, South Africa is slated for mid-July.

Chehade also told the audience that it didn’t make any sense that African domain registration money was flowing out of the continent due to the outdated registration practices of ccTLD operators there.

The speech largely focused on macro-policy issues of internet governance affecting the continent.

Naturalized American Chehade wore his Egyptian hat throughout, referring to Africans as “we”.

Listen to the whole 30 minutes here.

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