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TLDH wins .london contract, gets hacked

Kevin Murphy, April 11, 2012, Domain Registries

Top Level Domain Holdings has won the exclusive contract to apply to ICANN for the .london generic top-level domain, it has just been announced.

The deal was awarded by Dot London Domains, a subsidiary of official city PR agency London & Partners, to Minds + Machines Ltd, TLDH’s London-based subsidiary.

M+M will assist with the application and, assuming ICANN delegates .london, the registry infrastructure for at least seven years, with a three-year renewal option.

The application fees will be paid by L&P, according to TLDH chairman Peter Dengate Thrush.

The good news was soured slightly by an apparent hacking of TLDH’s web site by Viagra spammers this morning. According to the Google Cache, when the news broke, tldh.org looked like this:

TLDH

TLDH is listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market.

It also has an office here, though its senior executives are based in the US and the company is registered in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands.

I’d previously tagged .uk registry Nominet as the favorite to win the contract, but the company said today that it withdrew its bid last week.

APRIL 12 UPDATE

TLDH denies it got hacked yesterday. According to a spokesperson, there was an incident last August that may have been responsible for the Google Cache continuing to show Viagra spam for tldh.org yesterday.

From the explanation provided, it sounds like it was probably what’s sometimes known as a “conditional hack”, a difficult-to-detect attack whereby only the GoogleBot sees the spam SEO links.

The TLDH web site itself apparently never showed the links to visitors. Indeed, I only looked at the cache because tldh.org refused to load up for me yesterday morning.

The spokesperson maintained that the problem was sorted out last August and that TLDH has no idea why the Google Cache was showing the spam links in its cached page dated April 11, 2012.

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Three-way legal fight over .eco breaks out

Planet.eco, an emergent .eco gTLD applicant with a trademark on “.eco” is suing two rival applicants for trademark infringement and cybersquatting in a California court.

The company sued DotEco (affiliated with Minds + Machines and Top Level Domain Holdings), along with CEO Fred Krueger, and Canada-based Big Room on March 2.

It’s looking for millions of dollars of damages and an injunction preventing both rival applicants from applying for .eco.

In late March, DotEco filed a counter-suit, alleging that Planet.eco’s .eco trademark was fraudulently obtained and that the company is trying to illegally stifle competition for the .eco gTLD.

That’s the short version. It’s a complex story with a great deal of history and more than a little bogus behavior.

DomainIncite PRO subscribers can read the full DI analysis, along with more PDFs than you could ever possibly need, here.

(Thanks to reader Tom Gilles for the tip)

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Google confirms new gTLD bids

Google will apply for several new generic top-level domains, according to a report in AdAge.

The company will apply for some dot-brands, and possibly some keywords, the report indicated.

“We plan to apply for Google’s trademarked TLDs, as well as a handful of new ones,” the spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

AdAge speculates that .google and .youtube would be among the applications, which seems like a fair assumption.

The revelation comes despite the fact that Google engineers recently stated that there would be no guaranteed search engine optimization benefits from owning a gTLD.

However, I wouldn’t be surprised if keywords representing some of Google’s services, such as .search and .blog, are also among its targets.

The total cost to Google is likely to run into millions in ICANN application fees alone.

It will also be interesting to see which registry provider — if any — Google has selected to run its back-end.

Google is one of the few companies out there that could scratch-build its own registry infrastructure without breaking a sweat.

The AdAge report also quotes Facebook and Pepsi executives saying they will not apply.

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States will object to .inc, .llc gTLDs

American secretaries of state will object to new gTLD applications for .inc, .corp, .llc and .llp unless they are restricted, the National Association of Secretaries of State has told ICANN.

In a March 30 letter, NASS president Beth Chapman wrote:

While we have concerns about the use of these extensions, if ICANN considers approving these extensions, our members respectfully request that they be approved with restrictions that would attempt to protect legitimate businesses and consumers from confusion or fraud.

The members of NASS believe these extension identifiers (.INC, .LLC, .CORP, .LLP) should only be extended to entities that are also legally and appropriately registered with the Secretaries of State, or the equivalent state agency. The entity purchasing a new domain name should be the same entity registered with a Secretary of State or equivalent state agency.

The sentiment was a repeat of views expressed in a March 20 letter from Jeffrey Bullock, secretary of state of corporation-friendly Delaware.

Bullock said that Delaware “would object to the granting of such strings without restrictions”.

Neither letter acknowledges that the corporate suffixes Inc, Corp and LLP are also used elsewhere in the world.

Both letters refer to DOT Registry, a start-up with plans to apply to ICANN for .inc, .corp and .llc.

DOT Registry plans to put restrictions in place to ensure only registered companies can register domains, Bullock wrote.

I’m not familiar with DOT Registry’s plans, but in general I’m not keen on this type of gTLD string. They strike me as pointless, more likely to create defensive registration revenue than any benefit.

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First .blog new gTLD applicant revealed

Colombian domain name registrar My.co has become the first company to reveal that it will apply to ICANN for the .blog generic top-level domain.

Manager Gerardo Aristizabal told DI today that the application will be made through a company called Primer Nivel (“First Level” in Spanish).

My.co (officially Central Comercializadora de Internet) is the main partner in the bid. Other unspecified investors are also on board.

Qinetics, the Malaysian registry services provider that does business as RegistryASP, has been contracted to run the registry back-end.

My.co already uses Qinetics for its .co registrar gateway, which provides .co registration services to 20 other registrars, according to Aristizabal.

UK-based CommunityDNS has signed up to provide the DNS, while NCC Group has been named data escrow provider, he added.

“We believe .blog will provide a great address for establishing blogs online, and will become the Internet space for freedom of speech and information,” Aristizabal said.

It goes without saying that .blog will be a heavily contested – I would say probably the most heavily contested – gTLD.

Whenever anyone asks me what gTLD string I think stands the best chance of success, I always point to .blog.

It’s a no-brainer.

Media analysts NM Incite (great name) tracked 181 million blogs in 2011, up by about 25 million from 2010. A gTLD that could grab just 1% of that business would still be a nice little earner.

Not only is there an enormous potential market, but .blog doesn’t (as far as I know) have any of the legal baggage that will scare away potential applicants for strings such as .web or .music.

If .blog goes to auction, expect it to fetch eight figures.

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