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Dot-XXX lights fire under ICANN’s feet

Kevin Murphy, March 22, 2010, Domain Registries

ICM Registry has urged ICANN to stop messing around and finalise the contract that would add .xxx to the domain name system.

“There is no legitimate obstacle to the approval of ICM’s registry agreement,” ICM chair Stuart Lawley said in a letter to ICANN yesterday. “We can see no reason for further delay in the process of approving ICM’s registry agreement”.

At its Nairobi meeting earlier this month, ICANN’s board decided to hand the problem of how to handle .xxx to its staff, saying it “wishes to create a transparent set of process options which can be published for public comment.”

ICM now claims that no such process options are necessary. The .post application, Lawley said, was approved last December, six years after it was made, without the need for any new processes.

There are some differences between .post and .xxx, of course. While the .xxx application has previously been approved, it has also previously been rejected.

It is back on the table following an Independent Review Panel decision that ICANN broke its fairness rules by singling out ICM for special treatment.

Lawley reminds ICANN of as much several times in his latest letter, which can be found here.

ICANN’s staff is expected to deliver its process options next week. There will be a period of public comment, and the board will have to make a call by its June meeting in Brussels.

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Verizon seeks another registrar scalp

Kevin Murphy, March 21, 2010, Domain Registrars

After killing off small Indian registrar Lead Networks last week, Verizon wasted no time in gunning for a larger target, DirectNIC.

The carrier sued DirectNIC on Friday, claiming the company has been involved in the systematic typosquatting of hundreds of thousands of domains, including at least 288 belonging to Verizon.

There appears to be at least two things going on here.

First, Verizon is claiming that the common registrar practice of parking expired, pre-delete domains, somehow falls foul of US anti-cybersquatting laws if the parked domains are typosquats.

DomainNameWire addresses the possibly discomforting precedents this could set over here.

Second, the Verizon complaint resurrects the theory that DirectNIC’s owners, including CEO Sigmund Solares, are or were themselves typosquatters, using shell …continue reading

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Dynadot sorry for .tv snafu

Kevin Murphy, March 21, 2010, Domain Registrars

Dynadot has apologised to customers for glitches during last week’s .tv landrush that allowed people to register premium domain names at well below market prices.

On Thursday, VeriSign slashed the first-year prices of “premium” .tv names and set the renewal fees to a standard lower registry rate.

While prices were lower, they were still premium, but some domainers discovered they could register domains previously priced in the tens of thousands of dollars for the standard fee at some registrars, Dynadot included.

Dynadot said this weekend that this was because “we were given an incomplete list of the Premium .TV Domain Names… So, any Premium .TV Domain Names that weren’t on the list were displayed at the normal .TV registration price.”

The company further apologised for giving registrants store credit, rather than a cash refund, after it discovered its mistake and deleted the registrations, which was “probably not the best way to handle the situation”. This policy has been reversed, and registrants can now get a “no questions asked” refund.

Demand during the .tv land-rush was evidently so high that Dynadot’s float at VeriSign was quickly drained.

The company said: “We had a problem with the central registry and ran out of funds. This meant we could not process any COM/NET/TV/CC domain registrations, domain transfers, and domain renewals.”

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VeriSign creates .tv mini land-rush

Kevin Murphy, March 19, 2010, Domain Registries

Domainers are buzzing with the news that VeriSign has just made tens of thousands of premium .tv names viable for speculation.

The company cut the prices of its premium names and, more importantly, has reset the annual renewal fees for premium domains to the much lower standard flat renewal fee.

Judging from the Namepros forums, a lot of people bought a lot of domains and, potentially, got a lot of very good deals on one-word dictionary or three-letter .tvs.

Some domains appeared to have dropped off the premium list altogether, leading some to speculate that the prices were too good to be true, and that registrar glitches must be responsible.

However, I talked to Chris Sheridan, VP of sales at eNom, a little earlier and he seemed to be of the opinion that the prices were probably legit.

The new lower renewal fees, incidentally, do not appear to apply to previously registered premium .tv names, which is bound to cause angst for some.

I’m not usually much of a speculator, but I took a risk on a couple of cheap dictionary words a couple of hours ago. My new registrar is telling me the registrations were “successful”, but I’ve no idea whether I can believe it.

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Microsoft wins Bing.com IDN case

Kevin Murphy, March 18, 2010, Domain Policy

Microsoft has won a UDRP dispute over xn--bng-jua.com, an IDN typo of its Bing.com search engine brand.

The domain shows up as bıng.com when run through a Punycode translator, virtually indistinguishable from Microsoft’s trademark.

In what appears to be an open-and-shut case, National Arbitration Forum panelist Louis Condon found that the domain was registered in bad faith and transferred it to Microsoft.

The domain was registered on May 27, 2009, the day before Microsoft officially unveiled Bing (the news had already been leaked) and immediately parked.

The original registrant, Jason Harrington of Pennsylvania, did not respond to the UDRP complaint.

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Cybersquatting registrar goes into receivership

Kevin Murphy, March 18, 2010, Domain Registrars

Lead Networks Domains, an Indian domain name registrar, has been handed to a California receiver after a cybersquatting lawsuit filed by Verizon.

ICANN said today that Bret Fausset has been appointed receiver for the Mumbai-based company, which had about 130,000 domains under management when Verizon sued it.

Verizon sued Lead in January 2008, claiming the registrar’s customers had registered 238 misspellings of Verizon trademarks.

The company further claimed that Lead ignored UDRP rulings that went against it and supplied UDRP avoidance services to its users.

ICANN yanked Lead’s accreditation last July. Fausett said he will now transition any of its remaining domain names to a new registrar.

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Sex.com auction postponed for online bidders

Kevin Murphy, March 17, 2010, Domain Sales

The auction of Sex.com, which was due to happen in New York on Thursday, has been postponed and the auctioneer is now accepting online bidders.

Maltz Auctions, which is handling the sale, posted a link to a ProxiBid.com page and the slogan “Online Bidding Available – Call for Details!”, neither of which were there last time I looked.

ProxiBid describes itself as “the World’s #1 provider of live webcast auctions”. The service webcasts and allows remote users to bid on live, in-person auctions.

The company press released its Sex.com coup on Friday.

You’ll still need to put $1m into escrow in order to bid.

It appears that legal action may be the reason for the postponement.

The ProxiBid page still reflects the March 18 date.

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Internet ‘villain’ to headline ICANN Brussels

Kevin Murphy, March 17, 2010, Domain Policy

It’s a date! Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, has accepted Rod Beckstrom’s invitation to attend ICANN’s meeting in Brussels this June.

Reding is a mildly controversial figure in the domain name world.

Notably, she is the recipient of a UK Internet Service Provider Association Internet Villain award over the launch of .eu, which happened under her watch as Information Society commissioner.

ISPA nominated her in 2007, for “foisting the most arcane set of rules yet seen for prior registration of .eu domains, requiring UK-registered companies to submit legal affidavits to justify the authenticity of their business.”

Arcane rules? At an ICANN meeting? Shurely shome mishtake.

It’s not clear whether Reding will be speaking at the meeting. She’s agreed to attend on June 22, the same day as the Governmental Advisory Committee meeting.

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Is Go Daddy’s size a competition concern?

Kevin Murphy, March 17, 2010, Domain Registrars

Go Daddy is undoubtedly the runaway success story of the domain name industry.

It may not be as big as VeriSign, but unlike VeriSign it was not simply handed a multi-billion dollar resource to manage. It was essentially scratch-built. It didn’t even have first-mover advantage – Register.com and Network Solutions had that, and Go Daddy’s been eating their lunches for years.

The company has got where it is today through, in my opinion, a combination of cheap prices, decent customer service and populist marketing. Mainly the cheap prices, but I doubt that putting a great big pair of boobs on TV during the Super Bowl can have hurt sales.

But how big is the company? And with the introduction of new gTLDs, is its size now a cause for concern? …continue reading

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Secure64 offers DNSSEC for $20k

Kevin Murphy, March 17, 2010, Domain Tech

Secure64 Software has released a budget version of its DNS signing software, Secure64 DNS Signer.

The $19,995 package promises to automate DNSSEC key generation, management, and zone signing. It’s compatible with BIND, Windows and NSD.

While Secure64 is currently targeting smaller government agencies, due to the security mandates they have to abide by, I expect these types of products to pick up enterprise traction over the next few years.

Deploying DNSSEC is hard, but pretty soon it will be a must-have. With root signing currently set for July, and .com signing due in less than a year, Secure64 will probably do pretty well when enterprises start asking for more secure DNS.

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