Nominet has processed its 10,000th cybersquatting dispute, according to the company.
Conveniently for the .uk registry’s public relations department, the complainant in the case was Aston Merrygold, a well-known former member of the pop group JLS.
He won astonmerrygold.co.uk, which was registered to London-based Martyn O’Brien, using Nominet’s 12-year-old Dispute Resolution Service.
Merrygold does not have a trademark covering his name, but the DRS panelist found that he had rights anyway, due to his relative fame and numerous TV appearances.
O’Brien registered the name in 2008, along with the names of Merrygold’s band-mates, after JLS appeared in the final of TV talent show The X Factor.
JLS had a brief but successful pop career before breaking up last year. Merrygold currently intends to go solo, which presumably inspired the DRS complaint.
Nominet also announced today that Tony Willoughby, who has been chair of the DRS panel since 2002, has stepped aside and will be replaced by DRS appeals panelist Nick Gardner.
ICANN has raised another $12.9 million from new gTLD auctions.
A small batch of three contention sets — .realty, .salon and .spot — were resolved last Wednesday in the third so-called “last resort” auction.
.realty went to Fegistry for $5,588,888, .salon to Donuts for $5,100,575 and .spot to Amazon for $2.2 million.
ICANN now has accumulated new gTLD auction sales totaling $27.8 million.
It raised $14.3 million selling off .buy, .tech and .vip in September. The auction for .信息 fetched $600,000 in June.
ICANN’s share — after auctioneer Power Auctions is paid off — is being put into a special fund, rather that ICANN’s current account. The community will one day have to decide what to spend it on.
Verisign’s .net is on the rocks due to new gTLDs, executives have confirmed.
Speaking to investors and analysts on the company’s third-quarter earnings call last week, CFO George Kilguss said that .net “is experiencing some headwinds from the launch of the new gTLD program”.
Further comments from Kilguss and CEO Jim Bidzos seem to confirm what DI reported a month ago: .net is in trouble.
Latest stats collated by DI show that the .net zone file shrunk by over 121,000 domains in the seven months between March 26 and October 26 this year.
Executives said on the call that .net stood at 15.1 million names at the end of September. That compares to 15.2 million at the end of the previous quarter.
“It’s been relatively flat,” Kilguss said. “I actually think .net has held up pretty well over the year with all these new names coming on… So I don’t view .net’s performance as anything negative.”
Bidzos told analysts that “confusion” around the new gTLDs was to blame.
“I think generally, .net may be more susceptible to that confusion that swirls around new gTLDs,” he said.
He characterized .net as being like new gTLDs, falling into “that category of ‘different'”.
In my view, this is an implicit acknowledgement that .net has been getting a free ride for the last 20 years.
Asked whether the .net weakness could spill over to .com, Bidzos said that .com is a “trusted brand” because it’s almost 30 years old and has a 17-year record of uninterrupted up-time.
While there’s no doubt that .com is a trusted brand, it’s not because of its up-time or longevity, in my view — .net has the same stability record and is actually fractionally older than .com.
The reason .net is suffering now is that that for the last two decades it’s been essentially a defensive play.
People buy the .net when they buy the .com because they’ve been marketed as a bundle — the only two truly generic TLDs out there. Unlike .org, .net lost its semantic differentiation a long time ago.
As .com buyers start to see more and more options for duplicative or defensive registrations in their shopping carts, they’re going to be less likely to grab the .net to match their .com, in my opinion.
And it’s likely to get worse.
“It’s going to continue,” Bidzos said. “We’re seeing hundreds of more new gTLDs coming, and they’re coming at the rate of many every single week. So that confusion is likely to get worse.”
ICANN has started termination proceedings on Domain Services Rotterdam, a Dutch registrar, for failure to pay accreditation fees.
The company owes ICANN $5,118.83 in dues but has failed to pay up despite breach notices dating back to May, according to an ICANN termination notice (pdf)
Domain Services does not have any gTLD domains under management, so no registrants will be affected by the termination, which is due to kick in November 21.
The registrar was accredited in March this year.
ICANN may cancel its forthcoming meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, due to fears about the spread of Ebola in Africa.
The organization issued a statement last night, after local reports said the decision to cancel had already been made:
Following Morocco’s recent request to postpone the Africa Cup of Nations football tournament because of possible African travel restrictions, ICANN is in active and ongoing discussions with our ICANN 52 Marrakech hosts.
ICANN is considering postponing the meeting in Marrakech scheduled for 8-12 February, 2015 as the likelihood of travel restrictions being imposed on nationals from African countries would reduce participation in the meeting. ICANN’s multistakeholder, bottom up model relies on the broad, active participation of communities across geography and society.
ICANN staff is working closely with the ICANN Board and its Community representatives.
No decision has been taken yet, however ICANN understands the importance of providing timely updates and path forward on the status and location of ICANN 52.
Citing an unnamed ICANN source, Le360 reported on Saturday that ICANN 52 had been canceled due to the Moroccan government’s reluctance to host large international gatherings.
While Morocco is not affected by the current Ebola outbreak — which has infected over 10,000 people thousands of kilometers away, mainly in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia — there are fears that major international events could bring the virus into the country.
The government has been urging the Confederation of African Football to postpone the Africa Cup of Nations, a football tournament due to take place January 17 to February 8.
The ICANN meeting in Marrakech is scheduled for February 8 to 12.