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ICANN to get $8 million more from new .com deal

Verisign will pay ICANN roughly $8 million more per year in fees under its new .com registry agreement, CEO Jim Bidzos told financial analysts last night.

Under the new deal, approved by ICANN last month, the company pays ICANN a $0.25 fee for every .com registration-year, renewal or transfer, instead of the lump sums it paid previously.

That’s going to work out to about $25 million in 2013, Bidzos said on Verisign’s second-quarter earnings call last night, compared to about $17 million under the old arrangement.

The new agreement continues to give the company the right to increase its price by 7% a year in most years, of course, so it’s not all bad news for Verisign investors.

The deal is currently under review by the US Department of Commerce and Bidzos said he expects it to be approved before November 30, when the current contract expires.

.sx denies .sex gTLD objection rumor

Kevin Murphy, July 26, 2012, Domain Services

The CEO of SX Registry has denied rumors that the company already plans to object to the two .sex new gTLD applications, but has not yet ruled out such a move.

The company runs Sint Maarten’s new ccTLD, .sx, and gossip at the ICANN meeting in Prague last month suggested that an objection or two against .sex might be made on confusing similarity grounds.

The rumors were fueled in part by SX Registry’s sexy launch marketing.

But in a recent email to DI, Normand Fortier wrote:

At this time SX Registry is still reviewing the impact of various gTLD applications and contrary to some published rumors, has not taken any official position or decision regarding a future course of action.

Existing ccTLD operators are allowed to file String Confusion Objections against gTLD applications, if they feel there’s a risk of confusion if the gTLD is approved.

And .sx/.sex is far from a unique case.

In fact, of the 375 applications for three-letter gTLDs in the first round, 304 have only one character variance with one or more existing ccTLDs, according to DI PRO’s string similarity analysis.

ICANN’s Sword algorithm, which compares the visual similarity of strings, gives .sex a score of 57% against .sx.

I’ve checked every three-character gTLD application against every existing ccTLD and found dozens of proposed gTLDs with much higher similarity scores when compared to ccTLD strings.

The full results are available to DI PRO subscribers over here.

ICANN begins evaluating new gTLD applications

ICANN has already started formally evaluating some of the 1,930 new generic top-level domain applications it has received, according to sources.

Technical and financial evaluations are believed to have been going on for several days at the three outside firms ICANN has contracted with – Ernst & Young, KPMG and JAS Global Advisors.

ICANN staff said a few times during the Prague meeting last month that July 12 was the kick-off date for evaluations, but I’m led to believe they may have started a little later than that.

Nevertheless, they’re underway.

What’s not yet known is how – or if – the 1,930 applications will be batched into more manageable chunks.

The last official word from ICANN came on June 28, when Cherine Chalaby, chair of the board’s new gTLD program committee, said an update would be provided in about three weeks.

With that admittedly vague deadline now in the past, we can only assume that the publication of a new timetable is imminent.

ICANN fixes new gTLD portal bugs

Kevin Murphy, July 23, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN has brought its new gTLD program customer service portal back online after about five days of patching-related downtime.

In a notice posted late last night, ICANN said the delay was due to the wait for a vendor patch. ICANN said:

A recent, proactive review of the CSC system identified potential vulnerabilities. To address these vulnerabilities, the CSC portal was taken offline while vendor-provided patches were applied. There have been no known compromises to any data.

New gTLD applicants will now have to log in to their TLD Application System accounts, which use the Citrix remote terminal software, to use their customer service tools.

Non-applicants will be able to ask customer service questions via email.

The Knowledge Base — essentially a program FAQ — is still offline, but ICANN said it hopes to bring it back up within a few days.

New gTLD applicants: here’s how to lobby the GAC

Kevin Murphy, July 20, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee has let it be known that it’s open to receiving communications from new gTLD applicants.

But the GAC will only hear briefings from applicants at the request of GAC members, according to a notice posted on the GAC’s web site recently.

The GAC has strong powers to recommend the rejection of new gTLD applications, so naturally enough some applicants have already been lobbying to reinforce their positions.

Applicants are now being asked to send information to a specific email address or — implicitly — to lobby GAC representatives individually.

The new statement reads:

It is important to bear in mind that GAC members are still in the process of analysing the list of applications and applicants for new gTLDs. However, there have been a number of requests from applicants or other interested stakeholders to brief or provide briefing material to the GAC.

Briefings for the GAC will only be scheduled on a best-efforts basis and entirely at the request of GAC members.

An internal process for handling requests and tracking materials is being put in place, but those wanting to make their interest or availability known or to express an interest in providing written materials to the GAC can contact the GAC via gacsec@gac.icann.org. A list of those expressing interest or availability or that have provided materials will be made available to the GAC membership.

The GAC caused controversy last month when it accepted the European Broadcasting Union’s application for Observer status on the committee.

The EBU is also an applicant for .radio, which is contested by Donuts, Afilias and BRS Media.

BRS Media claims this is a conflict of interest and recently started lobbying for the EBU to withdraw its application. This week, it set up a web site to promote its cause.