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ICM and YouPorn in antitrust settlement talks

Kevin Murphy, February 14, 2012, Domain Registries

It’s Valentine’s Day, so perhaps it’s appropriate that ICM Registry has just revealed that it’s in talks to settle the .xxx antitrust lawsuit filed by one of the world’s biggest porn networks.

ICM and Manwin Licensing may soon resolve the case, which Manwin filed in November over the “extortion” it saw in the launch of the .xxx top-level domain, according to court documents.

In a joint filing, Manwin and ICM, along with ICANN and Digital Playground – the fellow plaintiff that Manwin has since acquired – said:

in recent days, Plaintiffs and ICM have engaged in discussions aimed at resolving the disputes that are the subject of this litigation.

The parties believe that additional time would potentially allow the parties to resolve all or some portion of their disputes.

The filing stipulates that Manwin has until this Friday to file an amended complaint and that ICANN and ICM should have 60 days after that to file their responses to the complaint.

That’s assuming that the suit isn’t completely settled in the meantime, of course.

The ICANN and ICM motions to dismiss filed in January have been taken off-calendar until Manwin amends its complaint.

I understand that ICANN also has secured a 60-day extension to its deadline to respond to the separate Manwin Independent Review Panel proceeding.

Manwin, which runs Brazzers, YouPorn and the Playboy-branded web sites, claimed in its complaint that the approval of .xxx in the absence of a competitive tender and its subsequent launch policies and pricing violated US antitrust laws.

ICANN and ICM claimed in their responses last month that the company was just scared of a little competition.

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ICANN has 100 new gTLD applicants

Kevin Murphy, February 13, 2012, Domain Policy

One hundred companies have registered to apply for generic top-level domains, according to ICANN senior vice president Kurt Pritz.

ICANN has decided not to provide a running commentary about how many applications have been received, but it did say that 25 companies registered in the first week the program was open.

“That number is now up to 100,” Pritz said today at the The Top Level conference in London.

He was referring to companies paying their $5,000 to sign up for ICANN’s TLD Application System, which is likely to be much smaller than the actual number of gTLD applications. Each TAS account can store up to 50 applications, Pritz said.

There are only 45 days left on the clock to register for a TAS account. After March 29, you’re in for a wait of at least three years (my estimate) before the opportunity comes around again.

Pritz’s revelation was one of the more interesting things to emerge during today’s half-day gathering at the offices of the PR firm Burson-Marsteller, which attracted about 40 attendees.

The other big surprise was that Scandinavian Airlines System Group, the dot-brand applicant that was due to give a presentation on its plans for .sas, was a no-show.

I gather that somebody more senior at SAS found out about the conference and decided that revealing all was not such a great business strategy after all.

Most dot-brand applicants are playing their hands close to their chest, even if they’re not heading into a contested gTLD scenario (which SAS may well be if the software firm SAS Institute also applies for .sas).

I also found it notable that there’s still substantial confusion about the program among some potential dot-brand applicants, several of which did show up as general attendees.

I talked to one poor soul who had read the latest revision of the 349-page Applicant Guidebook back-to-back after it was published January 11, trying to figure out what had changed.

He was apparently unaware that ICANN had simultaneously published a summary of the changes, which were very minimal anyway, in a separate document.

These are the types of applicant – people unfamiliar not only with ICANN’s processes but also even with its web site – that are being asked to hack the Guidebook to make the rules compatible with a dot-brand business model, remember.

One potential applicant used a Q&A session during the conference to bemoan the fact that ICANN seems intent to continue to move the goal-posts, even as it solicits applications (and fees).

Pritz and Olof Nordling, manager of ICANN’s Brussels office, reiterated briefly during their presentation today that the current public comment period on “defensive” applications could lead to changes to the program’s trademark protection mechanisms.

But this comment period ends March 20, just nine days before the TAS registration deadline. That’s simply not enough time for ICANN to do anything concrete to deter defensive applications.

If any big changes are coming down the pipe, ICANN is going to need to extend the application window. Material changes made after the applications are already in are going to cause a world of hurt.

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First .xxx cybersquatting complaint filed by porn site

Kevin Murphy, February 12, 2012, Domain Policy

The new .xxx top-level domain has seen its first cybersquatting complaint filed by a porn site.

The registrant of the domain was hit by a UDRP complaint in with the World Intellectual Property Organization late last week. is a well-known “artistic nude” porn site, according to the adult industry trade press.

While there have already been 12 UDRP cases filed against .xxx registrants, the previous cases have all been filed by the owners, such as banks and retailers, of non-porn trademarks.

The case appears to be the first instance of a cybersquatting complaint filed by a porn site.

Complainant Georg Streit has owned a US trademark on “FemJoy” – covering “magazines and periodicals featuring photographs and images of landscapes and human bodies” – since 2007.

The registrant of is an Australian called Tu Nguyen, according to Whois records. The domain does not currently resolve. In fact, it doesn’t even have name servers.

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Parked domain pun wins “Funniest Joke” award

Kevin Murphy, February 10, 2012, It's Friday

A bit of Friday afternoon nonsense for you…

British stand-up comedian Tim Vine this week won a LAFTA award for the “year’s funniest joke” that’s basically just a pun on a domain name.

This is the joke: “ – that’s a site for sore eyes”

The domain is parked (of course) and seems to be owned by a Californian domainer listed in Whois as the Health Hero Network.

I’m guessing the domain is seeing a traffic spike today.

Here’s a video of Tim Vine being much, much funnier.

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Did Kazakhstan just screw up somebody’s new gTLD plans?

Kevin Murphy, February 10, 2012, Domain Registries

ICANN has approved a new country-code top-level domain for the nation of Kazakhstan.

The new .қаз, which is “kaz” is Cyrillic, will be delegated to the “Association of IT companies of Kazakhstan”, according to a resolution passed by ICANN’s board of directors this week.

But did this move just cause problems for a new gTLD applicant?

One cultural/geographic gTLD that was proposed back in 2009 is .kab, for the Kabylia region of Algeria and the Kabyle language and people.

It’s easy to see how kab/KAB and .қаз could be considered confusing during a string similarity review, though ICANN’s laughable Sword tool only gives them a visual similarity score of 49%.

The .kab application currently has a dead web site, so it’s quite possibly one of the many new gTLD projects that fizzled out during ICANN’s repeated delays launching the program.

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