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First English new gTLD Sunrise periods start today

Kevin Murphy, November 26, 2013, Domain Registries

Donuts today kicks off the Sunrise periods for its first seven new gTLDs, the first English-language strings to start their priority registration periods for trademark owners.

The big question for mark holders today is whether to participate in Sunrise, or whether Donuts’ proprietary Domain Protected Marks List is the more cost-efficient way to go.

Sunrise starts today and runs until January 24 for .bike, .clothing, .guru, .holdings, .plumbing, .singles and .ventures. Donuts is planning seven more for December 3.

These are “end-date” Sunrises, meaning that no domains are awarded to participants until the full 60-day period is over. It’s not first-come, first-served, in other words.

Where more than one application for any given domain is received, Donuts will hold an auction after Sunrise closes to decide who gets to register the name.

The primary requirement for participating in Sunrise is, per ICANN’s base rules, that the trademark has been submitted to and validated by the Trademark Clearinghouse.

Donuts is not enforcing additional eligibility rules.

The company has not published its wholesale Sunrise application fee, but registrars have revealed some details.

Com Laude said that the Donuts “Sunrise Participation Fee” is $80, which will be the same across all of its gTLDs. Registrars seem to be marking this up by about 50%.

Tucows, for example, is asking its OpenSRS resellers for $120 per name, with an additional first-year reg fee ranging between $20 and $45 depending on gTLD.

Lexsynergy, which yesterday reported on Twitter a spike in TMCH submissions ahead of today’s launch, is charging between £91 ($147) and £99 ($160) for the application and first year combined.

The question for Trademark Owners is whether they should participate in the alternative Domain Protected Marks List or not.

The DPML is likely to be much cheaper for companies that want to protect a lot of marks across a lot of Donuts gTLDs.

A five-year DPML fee can be around $3,000, which works out to $3 per domain per year if Donuts winds up with 200 gTLDs in its portfolio.

Companies will not be able to actually use the domains blocked by the DPML, however, so it only makes sense for a wholly defensive blocking strategy.

In addition, DPML does not prevent a eligible mark owner from registering a DPML domain during Sunrise.

A policy Donuts calls “DPML Override” means that if somebody else owns a matching trademark, in any jurisdiction, they’ll be able to get “your” domain even if you’ve paid for a DPML entry.

I should point out that Donuts is simply following ICANN rules here. There are few ways for new gTLD registries to make names ineligible for Sunrise within their contracts.

Trademark owners are therefore going to have to decide whether it’s worth the risk of sticking to a strictly DPML strategy, or whether it might make more sense to do Sunrise on their most mission-critical marks.

DotShabaka Registry was the first new gTLD operator to go to Sunrise, with شبكة., though the lack of Arabic strings in the TMCH means it’s largely an exercise in contractual compliance.

Donuts’ trademark block list goes live, pricing revealed

Kevin Murphy, September 25, 2013, Domain Registries

Donuts’ Domain Protected Marks List, which gives trademark owners the ability to defensively block their marks across the company’s whole portfolio of gTLDs, has gone live.

The service goes above and beyond what new gTLD registries are obliged to offer by ICANN.

As a “block” service, in which names will not resolve, it’s reminiscent of the Sunrise B service offered by ICM Registry at .xxx’s launch, which was praised and cursed in equal measure.

But with DPML, trademark owners also have the ability to block “trademark+keyword” names, for example, so Pepsi could block “drinkpepsi” or “pepsisucks”.

It’s not a wildcard, however. Companies would have to pay for each trademark+keyword string they wanted blocking.

DPML covers all of the gTLDs that Donuts plans to launch, which could be as many as 300. It currently has 28 registry agreements with ICANN and 272 applications remaining in various stages of evaluation.

Trademark owners will only be able to sign up to DPML if their marks are registered with the Trademark Clearinghouse under the “use” standard required to participate in Sunrise periods.

Donuts is also excluding an unspecified number of strings it regards as “premium”, so the owners of marks matching those strings will be out of luck, it seems.

Blocks will be available for a minimum of five years an maximum of 10 years. After expiration, they can be renewed with minimum terms of one year.

The company has not disclose its wholesale pricing, but registrars we’ve found listing the service on their web sites so far (101domain and EnCirca) price it between $2,895 and $2,995 for a five-year registration.

It looks pricey, but it’s likely to be extraordinarily good value compared to the alternative of Sunrise periods.

If Donuts winds up with 200 gTLDs in its portfolio, a $3,000 price tag ($600 per year) works out to a defensive registration cost of $3 per domain per gTLD per year.

If it winds up with all 300, the price would be $2.

That’s in line (if we’re assuming non-budget pricing comparisons and registrars’ DPML markup), with Donuts co-founder Richard Tindal’s statement earlier this year: that DPML would be 5% to 10% the cost of a regular registration.

Tindal also spoke then about a way for rival trademark owners to “unblock” matching names, so Apple the record company could unblock a DPML on apple.music obtained by Apple the computer company, for example.

Donuts is encouraging trademark owners to participate before its first gTLDs goes live, which it expects to happen later this year.

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