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New gTLD marketing conference coming to New York

Kevin Murphy, November 8, 2012, Domain Services

Momentum Consulting has announced a conference focused on marketing with new gTLDs for New York City next March.

The Digital Marketing & gTLD Strategy Congress is designed for brand managers, trademark lawyers and marketing executives, according to organizers.

The preliminary agenda was published today. It includes speakers from Citibank, which has applied for two new gTLDs, Neustar, Afilias, Domain Diction, PIR, Deloitte and Donuts.

ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade has also been invited to deliver the keynote, according to the agenda.

Lead sponsors include Afilias and Domain Diction. DI, Domain Name Wire and The Domains are media sponsors.

The event will run from March 11 to 12 in New York City. The venue does not appear to have been confirmed yet.

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Geo gTLD applicants make “public interest” case for priority approval

Kevin Murphy, November 6, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN’s has reached out to governments supporting geographic gTLD applicants over the last week, urging them to submit formal comments on the proposed “Draw” mechanism for prioritizing applications.

A barrage of correspondence from regional and city governments, some dating back as early as March when Digital Archery was still in play, has been published by ICANN over the last 48 hours.

They’re accompanied by much more recent responses from ICANN’s newly installed new gTLD program general manager, Christine Willett.

ICANN has heard from, among others, the state backers of .tirol, .zuerich, .hamburg and .berlin, all arguing that their geographic gTLD bids should be prioritized as being in the “public interest”.

The Draw mechanism would give priority to internationalized domain names, but not geographic gTLDs.

What’s missing from all the letters are any attempts to explain or justify the “public interest” claims.

ICANN’s responses are all the same: thanks for your letter, please contribute to the current public comment period on the proposed new gTLD prioritization lottery.

The letters can all be found on ICANN’s correspondence page. The comment period closes Friday.

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Chehade sets out 12-point plan for next six months

Kevin Murphy, November 5, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade has set out his goals for ICANN over the next six months in an open letter to the community.

The ambitious 12-point to-do list includes finishing off the next Registrar Accreditation Agreement, finalizing the Trademark Clearinghouse, and launching “a community effort” to address the Whois debate.

The document was described by Chehade at the close of the Toronto meeting last month as his “scorecard” for “what I plan to prioritize and do between now and Beijing”.

The next big ICANN meeting is in Beijing next April.

The letter states that “operational excellence”, something the organization was frequently criticized for its lack of under its previous leadership, is ICANN’s “highest priority”.

The new gTLD program is naturally a big part of that. Chehade said that ICANN plans to:

Deliver on every aspect of the new gTLD program launch next year, meeting obligations and securing the necessary resources and personnel to lead the transition from what has been a policy-driven effort to implementation of a responsive and reliable operation. As a first step, we are working to advance the dialogue on implementation of the Trademark Clearing House. We must also execute the prioritization draw, evaluations, and pre-delegation tests flawlessly.

As part of that effort, a new gTLD services department will be created. Part of its task will be to monitor policy work to make sure the policies being created are “implementable”.

Chehade said that the divisive Whois issue, which he controversially referred to as an “easy” problem to solve during remarks in Toronto, will be subject to a new review:

To strengthen our commitment to the public interest, we will launch a community effort addressing the WHOIS debate in a strategic way, to resolve the longstanding open items in this area.

On the RAA, Chehade said that ICANN “will plan to reach consensus on a solid and enforceable Registrar Accreditation Agreement that is fair and balanced.”

The full letter, which also sets out goals for internationalization and the evolution of the multi-stakeholder model, can be downloaded here.

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Roussos sells his .home new gTLD application

Kevin Murphy, November 5, 2012, Domain Registries

In what I believe is the first instance of a new gTLD bid changing hands, CGR E-Commerce has sold off its .home application to another applicant.

CGR is the Cyprus-based company controlled by prominent .music applicant Constantine Roussos.

Among 29 changes to new gTLD applications approved by ICANN and published late last week were substantial alterations to CGR’s application for .home, which is contested by 10 other applicants.

All references to Roussos, his colleague Tina Dam, and CGR itself were removed, replaced by the names of executives from Defender Direct.

The applicant name is now “Dothome Ltd”, whereas originally it was “DotHome/CGR E-Commerce Ltd”.

“We just sold that company,” Roussos confirmed to DI. “All our assets and intellectual property pertaining to .HOME were transferred to Defender Direct, a company that also applied for .SECURITY.”

“They are the second largest home security company in the U.S and have a lot of resources to provide to create value in both the home and security arenas,” he added.

Back in April, while the new gTLD application period was still open, Roussos was known to be shopping around some spare TLD Application System slots.

The .home gTLD is one of the most-contested strings in the current round, but all 11 applicants face the risk that the string itself may be rejected on security and stability grounds.

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ICANN’s new gTLD fund at $352.3m

Kevin Murphy, November 2, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN had $352.3 million in its new gTLD program bank account as of October 13, according to notes from a recent board meeting.

The numbers suggest that ICANN had only spent about $6 million on the program since the application window closed at the end of May.

With 1,930 applications at $186,000 a pop, excluding the seven refunds, ICANN should have grossed about $358 million.

The money is being held in a non-interest-bearing account, partly due to ICANN’s insistence that the program is not an exercise in self-enrichment.

Notes from the October 13 Board Finance Committee meeting also reveal that ICANN plans to revise its 2013 budget to account for the accelerated gTLD timetable.

The current budget was prepared before Digital Archery was scrapped and ICANN expected to process its applications in batches over two years. It now expects one batch lasting one year.

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