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First new gTLD contention set settled as Uniregistry and TLDH sign deal

Kevin Murphy, April 29, 2013, Domain Registries

Top Level Domain Holdings and Uniregistry have inked a deal to go splits on the proposed .country registry, the first publicly announced settlement of a new gTLD contention set.

The two companies are the only applicants for .country, so assuming one or both applications are approved by ICANN no auction will be required to decide who gets to run it.

It’s not yet clear which applicant will drop out of the race; it appears that TLDH and Uniregistry are waiting for their Initial Evaluation results to come out before making that call.

A new 50:50 joint venture will be formed to take over the contract. The companies said in a press release:

Under the conditional heads of terms for the proposed joint venture, either Uniregistry or TLDH will withdraw its application and, once the surviving applications is approved by ICANN, the authority to operate .country will be transferred to the new joint venture. The transfer will require ICANN approval, which the directors of the Company fully expect to be forthcoming.

Uniregistry’s prioritization number is 1232 and TLDH’s is 664. If TLDH passes Initial Evaluation, it would make sense for Uniregistry to pull out at that time to speed up the time to delegation.

TLDH CEO Antony Van Couvering said the deal is “pro-competitive and will result in lower prices for consumers”.

Uniregistry and TLDH are competing on another 20 gTLD strings, but .country is the only two-horse race they’re involved in.

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Another 44 new gTLDs pass Initial Evaluation

Kevin Murphy, April 26, 2013, Domain Registries

ICANN has posted its latest weekly batch of Initial Evaluation results for new gTLD applications, with 44 new passes and no failures.

The publication brings the grand total of passing applications to 213, with only one failure to date and 51 withdrawals.

Today’s passing strings are:

.微博 (Wei-bo), .慈善 (charity), .微博 (microblogging), .cimb, .wme ,broadway, .astrium, .associates, .coach, .aaa, .chase, .app, .trading, .nra, .vip, .engineer, .voyage, .yachts, .live, .cpa, .swiss, .auction, .emerck, .site, .godaddy, .epson, .pictures, .schaeffler, .omega, .dental, .hermes, .xin, .flowers, .qvc, .bofa, .email, .hotel, .scb, .cymru, .bridgestone, .dot, .talk, .cab, .guru.

Some notable things that immediately jump out at me:

  • Go Daddy’s application for the .godaddy dot-brand has passed.
  • The first application for .app — one of the most heavily contested strings — has passed.
  • So far none of the five Top Level Domain Holdings applications with Minds + Machines back-ends and priority numbers under 250 have passed.
  • Of the four Famous Four Media bids under 250, only one has passed.
  • Donuts is up to 29 passes, almost 10% of its total applications.
  • Amazon and Google have clean sheets so far.

ICANN is now at priority number 250 in its IE publication running order, which means 36 applications that could have passed already haven’t.

ICANN has previously stated that these delays are mostly due to processing responses to clarifying questions and change requests.

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Looking for a better new gTLD search engine?

Kevin Murphy, April 26, 2013, Domain Services

I’ve heard a few people complain this week about ICANN’s revamped new gTLD application page, so I thought it would be an ideal time to shamelessly plug DI’s New gTLD Application Tracker.

The Application Tracker has been significantly improved since it was first released last year, and now supports no less than 19 advanced search criteria, enabling users to construct extremely granular searches.

DI PRO Application Tracker

Want to search for only geographical, community or IDN gTLDs, or vice versa? You can do that.

Want to search for only gTLDs with GAC Advice or GAC Early Warnings? You can do that.

Want to see all the bids that failed Initial Evaluation? You can do that.

Want to search for all the contention sets where Uniregistry is competing with Amazon? You can do that.

Want to search for all the applications in contention sets with Google that have been withdrawn? You can do that.

Want to search for all the non-IDN bids filed by TLDH that have passed IE but are in contention and have GAC Advice but didn’t get an Early Warning? You can do that.

Want to search for “closed generic” strings containing the letter C applied for by Google that have GAC Advice and Objections and are in contention with Donuts? You can do that too.

DI PRO Application Tracker

Each application also has its own page containing key portions of the application as well as listing public comments, competing bids, objections, GAC Advice and Early Warnings in a simple one-page view.

In short, the Application Tracker is an extremely flexible research tool for people closely following the new gTLD program.

We’re always receptive to additional feature suggestions.

The Application Tracker is currently available as one of the services provided to annual or monthly DI PRO subscribers.

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Photos: ICANN shares new gTLD timeline at private New York meeting

Kevin Murphy, April 26, 2013, Domain Registries

ICANN has a new version of its constantly evolving new gTLD program timetable that accounts for Governmental Advisory Committee advice and other recent developments.

Staff talked through the timeline with participants at an invitation-only industry meeting in New York on Tuesday, but we have a couple photos to share more widely, provided by an attendee who declined attribution.

This first one will be familiar to new gTLD applicants who regularly attend ICANN’s update webinars, but there are a few differences compared to the version seen in Beijing (pdf), which address new roadblocks.

New York timetimetable

First, you’ll notice that there’s a new line for GAC advice, following the release of the GAC’s Beijing communique.

The slide seems to suggest that ICANN expects to have dealt with the advice before June. On the face of it, and without the full context of the staff presentation, this seems optimistic.

Second, the controversial Registry Agreement is addressed on the slide. ICANN seems to see the RA being published for public comment very soon, and finalized by the end of June.

All the new gTLD applicants and existing registry operators I’ve talked to this week seem to think this is more or less doable. Registries have much more incentive for speedy resolution than registrars did.

Third, due to the RA delay, ICANN won’t start contracting with new gTLD applicants until the end of June or beginning of July, according to the slide.

Operational dates for the Trademark Clearinghouse, Emergency Back-End Registry Operator and Uniform Rapid Suspension service all appear to be unchanged.

In this second slide, not used in Beijing, we see a visual representation of ICANN’s Initial Evaluation results posting schedule.

New York timetimetable

ICANN is currently posting about 50 results every Friday, having started off at 30 a week, but the slide shows ICANN expects to ramp up to 100 per week on May 24.

The New York meeting, one of ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade’s ongoing series of management roundtables, was attended by senior-level executives from many of the largest industry players.

As well as the new gTLD timetable, topics including the Domain Name Association, conferences and media awareness were discussed.

It was originally going to be followed by a splashy media event to officially launch the first new gTLDs, but that was delayed, due to the lack of any contracts to sign.

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GAC claims its first new gTLD scalps

Kevin Murphy, April 25, 2013, Domain Registries

Two new gTLD portfolio applicants have withdrawn a total of nine applications following advice from ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee.

Top Level Domain Holdings, owner of Minds + Machines, said it has binned its bids for .free, .sale, .spa and .zulu “as a consequence of these warnings, and after discussion with relevant governments”.

.spa and .zulu are both on the GAC’s shortlist for further consideration on geographical/cultural grounds (Spa is also a town in Belgium) and were due to be discussed at the ICANN meeting in Durban this July.

It’s less clear why TLDH has chosen to scrap .free and .sale, however.

Both were among over 300 bids to receive GAC advice on “consumer protection” grounds, but they were by no means the only TLDH applications to get hit with the same stick.

The company has 21 applications with “consumer protection” advice.

Its bids for .book and .cloud, for example, are listed in exactly the same place in the GAC’s Beijing communique as .free and .sale, and have similar contention profiles, but have not been withdrawn.

TLDH said in a press release that it expects to get a $520,000 from ICANN for withdrawing the bids and another $144,000 from the release of its Continued Operations Instrument risk fund.

Meanwhile, entrepreneur Bekim Veseli has yanked the remaining five of his original seven gTLD bids, all of which had been hit by advice on the basis that they’re “corporate identifiers” such as .inc and .corp.

I understand this withdrawals may not have related directly to the GAC advice, however, and may be also due to the fact that they’re all highly contested strings.

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