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New gTLDs top 100 as first dot-brands hit the root

Kevin Murphy, January 18, 2014, Domain Registries

There are now 107 new gTLDs live on the internet, following the latest batch of delegations.

Sixteen strings were entered into the DNS root today, including the first two dot-brands, which are Monash University’s .monash and CITIC Group’s .中信 (“.citic” in Chinese).

.CLUB Domains, Luxury Partners and Plan Bee became freshly-minted registries with the delegations of .club, .luxury and .build while legacy gTLD registry Afiias added .red, .pink and .shiksha to its roster.

Uniregistry added five new gTLDs to the two it had delegated in an earlier batch: .gift, .guitars, .link, .photo and .pics.

The delegation of .photo means the root now has its first singular/plural clash; Donuts already owns .photos.

Finally, I-REGISTRY added .rich to its .onl and China’s CNNIC had .网络 (“.network”) and .公司 (“.company”) delegated.

UPDATE (Jan 22): This post originally overlooked the delegation of .公司. It has been updated accordingly.

Eight more new gTLDs delegated

Kevin Murphy, January 14, 2014, Domain Registries

Donuts and United TLD had a combined total of eight new gTLDs added to the DNS root zone today.

Donuts subsidiaries saw .zone, .agency, .cheap and .marketing go live, while United TLD (Demand Media/Rightside) got .dance, .democrat, .moda (Spanish for “fashion/style”) and .social.

The nic.[tld] domains all appear to be resolving, albeit to the registries’ web sites in other TLDs.

There are now 91 new gTLDs live in the root, more than five times the number of legacy gTLDs. It seems likely that we’re going to pass 100 this week.

Cops can’t block domain transfers without court order, NAF rules

Kevin Murphy, January 12, 2014, Domain Registrars

Law enforcement and IP owners were dealt a setback last week when the National Arbitration Forum ruled that they cannot block domain transfers unless they have a court order.

The ruling could make it more difficult for registrars to acquiesce to requests from police trying to shut down piracy sites, as they might technically be in breach of their ICANN contracts.

NAF panelist Bruce Meyerson made the call in a Transfer Dispute Resolution Policy ruling after a complaint filed by EasyDNS against Directi (PublicDomainRegistry.com).

You’re probably asking right about now: “The what policy?”

I had to look it up, too.

TDRP, it turns out, has been part of the ICANN rulebook since the Inter-Registrar Transfer Policy was adopted in 2004.

It’s designed for disputes where one registrar refuses to transfer a domain to another. As part of the IRTP, it’s a binding part of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement.

It seems to have been rarely used in full over the last decade, possibly because the first point of complaint is the registry for the TLD in question, with only appeals going to a professional arbitrator.

Only NAF and the Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre are approved to handle such cases, and their respective records show that only one TDRP appeal has previously filed, and that was in 2013.

In the latest case, Directi had refused to allow the transfer of three domains to EasyDNS after receiving a suspension request from the Intellectual Property Crime Unit of the City of London Police.

The IPCU had sent suspension requests, targeting music download sites “suspected” of criminal activity, to several registrars.

The three sites — maxalbums.com, emp3world.com, and full-albums.net — are all primarily concerned with hosting links to pirated music while trying to install as much adware as possible on visitors’ PCs.

The registrants of the names had tried to move from India-based Directi to Canada-based EasyDNS, but found the transfers denied by Directi.

EasyDNS, which I think it’s fair to say is becoming something of an activist when it come to this kind of thing, filed the TDRP first with Verisign then appealed its “No Decision” ruling to NAF.

NAF’s Meyerson delivered a blunt, if reluctant-sounding, win to EasyDNS:

Although there are compelling reasons why the request from a recognized law enforcement agency such as the City of London Police should be honored, the Transfer Policy is unambiguous in requiring a court order before a Registrar of Record may deny a request to transfer a domain name… The term “court order” is unambiguous and cannot be interpreted to be the equivalent of suspicion of wrong doing by a policy agency.

To permit a registrar of record to withhold the transfer of a domain based on the suspicion of a law enforcement agency, without the intervention of a judicial body, opens the possibility for abuse by agencies far less reputable than the City of London Police.

That’s a pretty unambiguous statement, as far as ICANN policy is concerned: no court order, no transfer block.

It’s probably not going to stop British cops trying to have domains suspended based on suspicion alone — the Metropolitan Police has a track record of getting Nominet to suspend thousands of .uk domains in this way — but it will give registrars an excuse to decline such requests when they receive them, if they want the hassle.

Two new gTLD apps pass EE

Kevin Murphy, January 11, 2014, Domain Registries

While the industry’s attention may be focused — rightly — on new gTLD sunrise periods and launch plans, a handful of applicants are still slogging their way through ICANN evaluation.

Two more applications passed Extended Evaluation this week — Locus Analytics’ dot-brand .locus and DotPlace’s .place.

Both had failed Initial Evaluation in 2013 due to a lack of provided financial statements.

While .locus is uncontested and can now proceed to contracting, testing and delegation, .place has also been applied for by Donuts so will presumably be auctioned off.

You snooze, you lose new gTLD sunrise coming soon

Kevin Murphy, January 10, 2014, Domain Registries

Trademark attorneys and brand management executives take note: January 21 will see the launch of the first first-come, first-served sunrise period we’ve seen in a new TLD in a long time.

FCFS means that domain names will be allocated to participants immediately, rather than at the end of the sunrise period.

For those responsible for acquiring domain names for mark owners — many of whom are accustomed to waiting to the last minute before submitting sunrise applications — this is a change of pace.

You snooze, you lose.

To date only Regiodot’s German geographic gTLD, .ruhr, has officially confirmed (pdf) that it intends to use a FCFS policy during its mandatory sunrise period.

That’s due to kick off on January 21.

The precise time that the sunrise will begin — important when you’re looking at a FCFS policy — does not appear to have been published yet.

UPDATE: the time has been published (see comments below this post) and it’s 1000 UTC.

Under ICANN rules, to use FCFS registries need a “Start Date” sunrise, which runs for 30 days but requires a 30-day notice period before it begins. Regiodot told ICANN about its sunrise dates December 18.

The alternative “End Date” sunrises run for 60 days, have no notice period, and domains are only allocated to mark owners — usually using auctions to settle contention — after the 60 days are over.

Other than .ruhr, only PeopleBrowsr’s .ceo has said it wants to run a Start Date sunrise. However, PeopleBrowsr will not run its sunrise on a FCFS basis, preferring the end-date allocation/auction method instead.