Online gambling company bwin.party owns the domain name bwin.party but, bafflingly, hasn’t even turned it on.
The company runs PartyPoker and other betting sites and is in the business news today due to a takeover bid from rival 888.
Having just heard the story reported on the TV, I went to check out its web site — this was a significant company which had apparently rebranded to a new gTLD, and I hadn’t heard of it before.
But the domain name bwin.party doesn’t resolve, even though it’s an exact — exact, down to the lower case letters and the dot — match of the company name.
bwin.party actually uses bwinparty.com and bwin.com.
The domain is registered via Com Laude, so I assume it’s a defensive play.
.party is a new gTLD managed by Famous Four Media. It currently has over 134,000 names it its zone, growing by thousands of names per day, strongly suggesting it’s being sold for next to nothing at one or more registrars.
XYZ.com and Uniregistry have launched a joint venture to operate a trio of car-related new gTLDs, after acquiring .car from Google.
Cars Registry Ltd is a new company. It will launch .cars, .car and .auto later this year.
Uniregistry won .cars and .auto at auction last year. Google was the only applicant for .car.
It signed its ICANN contract in January but transferred it to Cars Registry a little under a month ago.
The newly formed venture plans to launch all three TLDs simultaneously in the fourth quarter this year.
.car is currently in pre-delegation testing. The other two are already in the root.
Cars Registry does not have the the car-related domain space completely sewn up, however.
Dominion Enterprises runs .autos, albeit with a plan to launch the TLD with restrictions that may well mean it does not directly compete with the other three TLDs.
Launch details for .cars, .car and .auto have not yet been released.
Judging by the gTLDs’ web site, they will run on the Uniregistry back-end.
Barclays has become one of the first major companies to explicitly confirm it will dump traditional gTLDs and ccTLDs in favor of its new dot-brands.
The $25 billion-a-year bank said it will “transfer its online assets to proprietary domain names — .barclays and .barclaycard — away from the traditional location-specific .com and .co.uk web addresses.”
The transition is a “long-term” play, but it’s started already, with “non-transactional” parts of its web site already using the two new gTLDs.
Basically, we’ve entered the brochureware phase of the dot-brand evolution.
home.barclays already mirrors barclays.com — both are simultaneously live right now — but the online banking service remains at barclays.co.uk.
In a May 11 press release that seems to have slipped under everyone’s radar last week, Barclays chief security officer Troels Oerting, until a few months ago cyber-crime chief at Europol, said:
The launch of the .barclays and .barclaycard domain names creates a simplified online user experience, making it crystal clear to our customers that they are engaging with a genuine Barclays site.
This clarity, along with the advantages of controlling our own online environment, enables us to provide an even more secure service, which we know is of utmost importance to our customers, and ultimately serves to increase trust and confidence in Barclays’ online entities.
This is precisely what advocates of dot-brands pitched as the benefits of the new gTLD program.
While many applicants stated similar plans in their gTLD applications, I think there’s been a degree of skepticism about whether they would follow through.
Barclays’ moves are happening faster than I expected — the .barclays gTLD was delegated in January — showing a degree of enthusiasm.
The charitable Australian Cancer Research Foundation in February launched sites under its .cancerresearch (not technically a dot-brand), while Hong Kong conglomerate CITIC Group has already experimented with a shift from .com to .citic.
In related news, the non-branded .bank gTLD opened for its sunrise period today.
The .travel gTLD, which was approved 10 years ago, will have to support the Uniform Rapid Suspension service, one of several significant changes proposed for its ICANN contract.
I believe it’s the first legacy gTLD to agree to use URS, which gives trademark owners a way to remove domain names that infringe their marks that is quicker and cheaper than UDRP.
Tralliance, the registry, saw its .travel Registry Agreement expire earlier this month. It’s been extended and the proposed new version, based on the New gTLD Registry Agreement, is now open for public comment.
While the adoption of URS may not have much of a direct impact — .travel is a restricted TLD with fewer than 20,000 names under management — it sets an interesting precedent.
IP interests have a keen interest in having URS cover more than just 2012-round gTLDs. They want it to cover .com, .org, .net and the rest too.
Domain investors, meanwhile, are usually cautious about any changes that tilt the balance of power in favor of big brands.
When .biz, .org and .info came up for renewal in 2013, the Intellectual Property Constituency filed comments asking for URS to be implemented in the new contracts, but the request was not heard.
I’m aware of two ccTLDs — .pw and .us — that voluntarily adopted URS in their zones.
Other changes include a requirement for all .travel registrars, with the exception of those already selling .travel domains, to be signatories of the stricter 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement.
That’s something Afilias and Neustar only agreed to put in their .info and .biz contracts if Verisign agrees to the same provisions for .com and .net.
The fees Tralliance pays ICANN have also changed.
It currently pays $10,000 in fixed fees every year and $2 per billable transaction. I estimate this works out at something like $40,000 to $50,000 a year.
The proposed new contract has the same fees as 2012-round new gTLDs — a $25,000 fixed fee and $0.25 per transaction. The transaction fee only kicks in after 50,000 names, however, and that’s volume .travel hasn’t seen in over five years.
Tralliance will probably save itself thousands under the new deal.
The contract public comment forum can be found here.
Momentous says CEO Rob Hall is NOT the man behind a registrar devoted almost exclusively to running “illegal” online pharmacies, after the US Congress was told he was a few hours ago.
In written testimony to Congress today, LegitScript president John Horton linked Hall to an “illegal online pharmacy network” called 4rx.
Horton said that the people running 4rx, which he said sells prescription drugs without a license, are also running the ICANN-accredited registrar Crazy8Domains
He went on to produce Canadian corporation records naming Hall as the sole director of the registrar.
I had a bit of a Google and found that Crazy8Domains says it’s based in a building in Ottawa that appears to have been once owned by Momentous.
But Rob Villeneuve, CEO of Momentous registrar Rebel, told us today that Crazy8Domains has not been part of Momentous for years. He said:
the Momentous group sold that Registrar over two years ago, and ICANN approved the sale. Mr. Hall and Momentous are no longer involved in Crazy8Domains in any way. We are unsure why the Industry Canada records have not been updated, and we have today notified Industry Canada of their error.
While Momentous may not be involved with Crazy8Domains, Horton presented some compelling evidence that it’s basically just a puppet registrar for an online pharmacy outfit.
It also goes by the name Kudo.com.
The contact name for the registrar listed by ICANN is Sabita Limbu, who is also listed in Whois as the registrant of domains such as indianpharmaonline.com, offshorerx1.com, and cheapestonlinedrugstore.com.
These sites offer hundreds of generic varieties of drug that purport to treat every condition under the sun, from erectile dysfunction to cancer.
Prescriptions do not appear to be required, and there’s a US toll-free number in case there was any doubt whose citizens are being marketed to.
Whether that’s illegal or not, I couldn’t possibly comment, but Horton told Congresspeople today that there are no countries where it is legal to sell prescription drugs without a license.
According to Horton, Crazy8Domains only has 18 domains live at present, and 15 of them are pharmacies:
In short, for all practical purposes, the ICANN-accredited registrar is the illegal online pharmacy, and the illegal online pharmacy is the ICANN-accredited registrar.
This means it would be virtually impossible for an outfit like LegitScript to get them taken down — any complaints made to ICANN would simply be referred to the registrar, which is in this case also the registrant.