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Registrars sought as Pool.com shuts down drop-catching business

Kevin Murphy, January 7, 2013, Domain Registrars

ICANN is looking for new homes for approximately 67,000 domain names, after a decision by Momentous to dump 85 of its domain name registrar accreditations.

The accreditations were used primarily for drop-catching, according to an email sent to registrars last Friday, and each has between 200 and 3,000 gTLD domains under management.

While most affected domains are recently caught drops, there may be some regular registrants scattered throughout the customer base, according to ICANN.

Momentous, owner of Pool.com, announced that it was getting rid of its drop-catching registrars in an email to customers late last year, as several domainer blogs reported at the time.

Pool plans to “refocus its business away from an emphasis on the secondary market”, the email said.

The company wanted to consolidate all of the domains in its NameScout registrar with the transfer fees waived, but ICANN declined its request, according to the email.

Some customers are not happy with how Pool has handled the situation.

The domainer “Acro” is currently pursuing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau in Momentous’ native Canada, according to a recent blog post.

The 85 accreditations are due to expire January 10. Registrars wishing to take over the portfolios had a deadline of this afternoon to express an interest with ICANN.

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Name.com “will carry as many TLDs as possible”

Kevin Murphy, January 7, 2013, Domain Registrars

Demand Media executive vice president Taryn Naidu said newly acquired registrar Name.com plans to carry as many TLDs as possible, but urged new gTLD applicants to start distribution talks with registrars as soon as possible.

“It’s going to be challenging to offer all of them,” Naidu told DI today. “We’re asking registries to come talk to Name.com early and often to make sure they get the shelf space.”

“They have to come with a plan, and make sure they’re ready to go to market,” he said.

Demand Media announced the acquisition of Name.com earlier today. The deal, for an undisclosed amount, will see the 30-strong Denver, Colorado-based company join number two registrar eNom in the Demand stable.

Name.com is almost 10 years old and has almost 1.5 million domains under management, the majority of them in gTLDs. eNom has over 12 million domains spread across scores of registrar accreditations.

Naidu said that the forthcoming new gTLD market was a major reason for the deal.

While eNom is primarily a channel player, Name.com is all about the customer-facing retail side of the registrar business.

Owning Name.com could give Demand Media a faster way to market the dozens of new gTLDs that it has itself applied for, as well as the 300 it has partnered with uber-applicant Donuts on.

Naidu declined to comment on details of the Donuts relationship, but I’d be quite surprised if a commitment to carry its TLDs is not part of the deal.

He also said he’s not too worried about alienating eNom’s existing reseller channel, pointing out that main retail rivals such as Go Daddy and Tucows also have extensive reseller networks.

“In many regards having access to a retail player like this will help us serve our resellers by better understanding their needs,” he said.

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Squatter promises to hand over footballer’s domain “if I can slap you in the face”

Kevin Murphy, January 5, 2013, Gossip

Funniest cybersquat ever?

A French squatter has nabbed zlatan.fr and promised to gift it to Sweden and Paris Saint-Germain footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic if he completes any of a series of bizarre challenges.

Among the many demands the anonymous squatter makes of Ibrahimovic is: “let me slap you in the face, without saying a word… and in public”.

He also requests a lock of the player’s hair, a bare-chested photograph for his girlfriend, and trial by FIFA 13.

If none of that catches Ibrahimovic’s fancy, the squatter said he will hand over the domain if the player simply asks him for it, in person and in French.

The domain was registered in December, not too long after Ibrahimovic made headlines for scoring what many described as the “best goal ever” in a friendly game against England.

Funnily enough, one of the challenges the squatter sets for Ibrahimovic is: “score a more-than-30-meter-backflip-goal in an official game. Just kidding… this is not realistic.”

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FTC chief says most new gTLD bids are “defensive”

Kevin Murphy, January 3, 2013, Domain Policy

The US Federal Trade Commission is still “looking at” ICANN’s new gTLD program amid concerns that most of the applicants applied defensively, it has emerged.

FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz also said today that he thinks new gTLDs will cause consumer confusion and lead to an increase in fraud.

“We have been very, very concerned about ICANN and their dramatic expansion of the domain names, which we think will cause consumer confusion and even worse lead to more areas where malefactors can hide from the law while defrauding consumers,” Leibowitz said.

“A lot of companies that have plunked down $185,000 per domain name — and there have been hundreds of companies that have done it — have mostly done it for defensive purposes,” he added.

Most new gTLDs are not dot-brands, so Leibowitz probably misspoke when he said that “most” applications are defensive. Within the subset of bids that are dot-brands, he may be on firmer ground.

His comments came during a press conference to discuss the FTC’s settlement of its competition probe of Google, which has itself applied for almost 100 new gTLDs.

The settlement agreement relates to Google’s search practices and not its gTLD applications.

Leibowitz said that the FTC is “not looking that issue [new gTLDs] with respect to Google, we’re looking at that issue with respect to ICANN”.

The FTC’s concerns about the program are not new, but it has not publicly expressed them recently.

In December 2011 the agency said the program could “magnify both the abuse of the domain name system and the corresponding challenges we encounter in tracking down Internet fraudsters.”

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Three ICANN staffers laid off in Aussie closure, other offices safe

Kevin Murphy, January 2, 2013, Gossip

ICANN has officially confirmed the closure of its Sydney, Australia office, but it appears that jobs at other satellite offices are safe.

All three Aussie employees were “let go” as a result of the Sydney decision, according to ICANN.

“ICANN is in the process of assessing how to effectively grow ICANN resources around the globe,” a spokesperson said. “This is an on-going process that will require consultation with the Board.”

The six staffers located in Palo Alto, California — the office set up largely to cater to the needs of former CEO Rod Beckstrom — are also set to move to a smaller office to save money.

The Washington DC office will also move, apparently to a location close to the White House, the spokesperson said.

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