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Germany plans new gTLD: .gesellschaftmitbeschränkterhaftung

The German Department of Commerce has announced plans to apply to ICANN for a new gTLD, .gesellschaftmitbeschränkterhaftung, to represent German companies on the web.

It’s believed to be the first public announcement of a new gTLD by a government agency anywhere in the world.

“For far too many years German companies have had to rely on dot-com domain names to conduct their affairs online,” German business minister Hans Vottisyornäm said in a statement.

“Dot-com has no meaning in the German language, confusing German internet users,” he added. “As soon as ICANN approves our plan, we believe dot-gesellschaftmitbeschränkterhaftung will quickly become the TLD of choice for German businesses on the international stage.”

Gesellschaftmitbeschränkterhaftung, which roughly translates as “com”, will have prices starting at $149 per year, but registrants will receive a free .aktiengesellschaft name with every purchase, if they can present the correct paperwork.

Go Daddy has already backed the TLD, and is planning a multi-million-euro TV ad campaign starring David Hasselhoff and a horde of busty Bavarian beer wenches.

“This could be the biggest thing since .tel,” Bob Parsons said in a statement.

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Deloitte brand list encourages UDRP claims

Kevin Murphy, March 31, 2010, Domain Policy

The number of UDRP claims a company files will help it qualify for a list of 100 brands that qualify for special protection in new gTLD launches.

Deloitte’s new brand list, expected to be published within a week, was created in response to ICANN’s call for a “globally protected marks list” or GPML, that new gTLDs can use in their sunrise periods.

The number of times a brand has been subject to a UDRP complaint is one of four criteria Deloitte is using for inclusion on the list.

.CO Internet, manager of the newly relaunched .co ccTLD, is already using the list in its sunrise period, referring to it as a “Specially Protected Marks” list.

Deloitte is more cautious, pointing out that while it was designed to fulfil some of the objectives of the ICANN GPML, it is not “the” GPML.

The company says: “the list published by Deloitte specifically intends to provide a fair view on which brands stand out in the safeguarding and enforcement of rights in the context of domain names.”

To make it onto the list, brands are assessed on these criteria: the web site’s ranking, the number of trademarks registered worldwide, whether the brand has participated in a previous sunrise, and how often the brand is cybersquatted.

For this last criterion: “Deloitte has reviewed in particular how many times a certain trademark has been invoked in the context of domain name dispute resolution proceedings, in particular in UDRP.”

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I-Root yanks Beijing node

Kevin Murphy, March 31, 2010, Domain Tech

Autonomica, which runs i-root-servers.net, has stopped advertising its Anycast node in Beijing, after reports last week that its responses were being tampered with.

In the light of recent tensions between China and the US, people got a bit nervous after the Chilean ccTLD manager reported some “odd behaviour” to the dns-ops mailing list last week.

It seemed that DNS lookups for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were being censored as they returned from I-Root’s node in China, which is hosted by CNNIC.

There was no suggestion that Autonomica was complicit in any censorship, and chief executive Karl Erik Lindqvist has now confirmed as much.

“Netnod/Autonomica is 100% committed to serving the root zone DNS data as published by the IANA. We have made a clear and public declaration of this, and we guarantee that the responses sent out by any i.root-servers.net instance consist of the appropriate data in the IANA root zone,” he wrote.

While Lindqvist is not explicit, the suggestion seems to be that somebody on the Chinese internet not associated with I-Root has been messing with DNS queries as they pass across the network.

This is believed to be common practice in China, whose citizens are subject to strict censorship, but any such activity outside its borders obviously represents a threat to the internet’s reliability.

The CNNIC node is offline until further notice.

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Nominet seeks new chair

Kevin Murphy, March 30, 2010, Domain Registries

Bob Gilbert has stepped aside as chairman of .uk registry Nominet, to be replaced temporarily by deputy chair Gordon Dick.

The news comes as Nominet seeks to draw a line under a tumultuous few years that have seen the non-profit company attempt to fight off domainers on the one hand and a power grab by the UK government on the other.

These efforts have been hit and miss.

While Nominet has successfully reformed its corporate governance to make it less vulnerable to capture by special interests, the government will still shortly enact the Digital Economy Bill, which gives the business secretary unprecedented reserve powers to appoint a new .uk registry manager.

“Having successfully updated Nominet’s constitution, a time consuming exercise for all involved, it is now time for the company to move into its next phase of development under new leadership,” Gilbert, who joined Nominet in 2005, said in a statement.

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UDRP claim pits .me against .me.uk

Kevin Murphy, March 29, 2010, Domain Policy

The owner of GuestList.me.uk has filed a UDRP claim against the registrant of GuestList.me.

As far as I can tell, this is the first UDRP case to directly pit a company built on a .me.uk brand against the registrant of the .me equivalent.

GuestList.me.uk is a London, UK-based nightclub promotions site that has been using its domain since 2003.

GuestList.me, which does not currently resolve, was registered through LCM.com’s privacy service on July 18, 2008, during the first 24 hours of .me general availability.

Given that LCM is a UK-based registrar, it seems plausible that GuestList.me’s registrant is also British.

It will be interesting to see which way this decision goes. There’s plenty of opportunity for precedent.

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Apple secures iPad trademark

Kevin Murphy, March 29, 2010, Gossip

Apple has bought the “iPad” trademark, as it relates to handheld computers, from Fujitsu.

The deal removes any doubt, if there ever was any, that anybody registering domain names containing the string had better unload them quickly or get lawyered up.

According to PatentAuthority.com, the US trademark on iPad was transferred to Apple on March 17. Details of the deal were not disclosed.

Fujitsu filed for the trademark several years ago to cover its line of handheld retail devices.

You may recall that a music producer made headlines last week for attempting to sell the domain ipaddownloads.com and others for $1 million on eBay.

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WIPO wants tougher cybersquatting rules on new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, March 29, 2010, Domain Registries

The World Intellectual Property Organization reckons ICANN should toughen its stance against new gTLD registries that allow cybersquatting.

The “trademark post-delegation dispute resolution procedure” or Trademark PDDRP would let trademark holders try to suspend new TLDs and receive compensation when a registry allows cybersquatting.

WIPO wants the burden of proof on trademark holders relaxed, making it much easier to file complaints.

Currently, the draft process would require complainants to show registries’ “specific bad faith intent” to profit from cybersquatting.

WIPO thinks this should be broadened to include deliberate recklessness.

“In seeking to give meaning to ‘intent,’ the criteria should, without as such imposing or implying any sweeping registry policing duty, also encompass instances of willful blindness,” WIPO wrote.

The comments came in response to ICANN’s public comment period on the process, which closes on Thursday.

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ICM says ICANN’s options for .xxx are ‘unacceptable’

Kevin Murphy, March 28, 2010, Domain Registries

ICM Registry has issued a speedy response to ICANN’s .xxx approval options paper, calling it “unacceptable” and urging the ICANN board to put the issue to bed ASAP.

Late Friday, ICANN published a flowchart outlining the possible ways the board could handle .xxx in the light of February’s Independent Review Panel decision, which found ICANN acted unfairly when it rejected the TLD in 2007.

ICM president Stuart Lawley said in a letter to ICANN today that most of the paths through the flowcharts “are in many respects substantively and procedurally inconsistent with the IRP declaration”.

The company believes the IRP decision resets the approval process to prior to the 2007 decision, when the two parties were in contract talks for an already-approved TLD.

The letter claims that “it would be inappropriate, illegal and inconsistent with ICANN’s core values and model of self governance for ICANN to set up an evaluative process that is lacking in objectivity and that does not affirmatively give effect to the underlying IRP declaration”.

There are presumably few people involved with ICANN in any doubt that ICM intends to take its case to the ‘proper’ courts if needs be, which is probably why its powers-that-be have been unwilling to meet with the company.

As I reported Friday, the options paper creates the possibility of re-evaluating the .xxx application under the Draft Applicant Guidebook v4 for new gTLDs, which is not yet completed.

It also suggests that ICANN will have to ask its Governmental Advisory Committee for its current opinion on the application, a move likely to stretch out a decision for months.

It also has an option to expedite the approval based on the “sponsored” TLD process under which ICM, and others such as .post and .asia, originally applied.

ICM’s latest letter is here. ICANN’s options paper can be found here. The public comment period is open here. Unlike many ICANN comments periods, it has comments.

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ICANN may kick .xxx into new gTLD round

Kevin Murphy, March 27, 2010, Domain Registries

ICANN has chosen to deal with the controversial .xxx TLD application by leaving essentially all options, including urging it into the next gTLD round, wide open.

ICM Registry had pushed for a speedy resolution to its long-running application, following the Independent Review Panel decision that went in its favour last month, but it hasn’t got one.

In Nairobi, ICANN’s board asked ICANN’s staff to tell it what its options were for dealing with the ruling, and staff today responded with this flowchart. Oh, and this flowchart.

It seems that these options are still on the table: …continue reading

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FourSquare.com expires, reporter seeks padding

Kevin Murphy, March 26, 2010, Gossip

Visitors to one of the web’s hottest geo apps had a bit of a surprise today when instead of FourSquare.com’s normal site they found a Go Daddy parking page.

It’s the usual problem — the company forgot to renew its registration.

That’s pretty much all there is to say about the story, unless you’re London daily newspaper Metro, which decided to pad the piece with a big chunk of lorem ispum:

Metro screenshot

It’s free for a reason.

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