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Registrars given access to Trademark Clearinghouse

Kevin Murphy, October 5, 2013, Domain Registrars

Accredited registrars on older contracts can now get access to the Trademark Clearinghouse for testing purposes, ICANN announced last night.

Previously, ICANN was only handing out credentials to registrars on the new 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement, but many registrars complained that this didn’t give them time to evaluate the TMCH and the RAA at the same time.

ICANN had originally argued that the restriction made sense because the TMCH is used only for new gTLDs, and registrars must have signed the 2013 RAA to sell new gTLD domains.

But feedback from registrars has helped it change its mind. ICANN said:

all ICANN accredited Registrars, not just those that have signed the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA), will be able to request registration tokens and start testing their systems with the Trademark Clearinghouse database before it must begin its authenticating and verifying services for trademark data.

Instruction for signing up for TMCH testing can be found here.

First gTLD Extended Evaluation results published

Kevin Murphy, October 5, 2013, Domain Registries

ICANN has delivered the first three results of Extended Evaluation for new gTLD applications, all passes.

Dot Registry, which has applied for five corporate-themed gTLDs, flunked its Initial Evaluation on .ltd and .llc back in June on financial grounds, but complained a few days later that ICANN’s evaluators had screwed up.

The company told DI at the time that the two bids used the same Continuing Operation Instrument as applications that had passed IE, and was baffled as to why they failed their financial evaluation.

Both applications have now passed through Extended Evaluation with passing scores, the COI-related score going up from 0 (no COI) to 3 (a perfect score).

Both .ltd and .lcc and still contested, and both also face the uncertainty of Governmental Advisory Committee advice and “uncalculated risk” scores, so the time impact of EE on other applicants is zero.

Also passing through EE this week was Express LLC’s dot-brand bid for .express.

The company had failed on technical grounds in Initial Evaluation, having scored an unacceptable 0 on “Abuse Prevention and Mitigation”. Under EE, this has increased to 2, a pass.

Express is still in contention with Donuts.

This week we also see eight applications, seven of them dot-brands, finally making it through Initial Evaluation: .boehringer, .deloitte, .abbvie, .lamer, .abc, .rogers, .fido and the generic .bar.

The DI PRO Application Tracker and associated tools have now been updated to take account of Extended Evaluation results.

Eleven TLDs get removed from the DNS

Kevin Murphy, October 3, 2013, Domain Registries

ICANN will soon remove 11 experimental internationalized domain name TLDs from the domain name system.

The TLDs, which represent “.test” in nine scripts and 10 languages, were added to the root almost exactly six years ago in preparation for ICANN’s IDN ccTLDs program.

Now that the program is quite mature, with a few dozen IDN ccTLDs live on the internet with no major reported problems, ICANN has decided that the test TLDs are no longer required.

They will be removed from the DNS root zone on October 31, ICANN said.

.pink and two other gTLDs get contracts

Kevin Murphy, October 3, 2013, Domain Registries

ICANN has signed Registry Agreements this week with three new gTLD applicants, covering the strings .wed, .ruhr and .pink.

I would characterize these strings as a generic, a geographic and a post-generic.

regiodot GmbH wants to use .ruhr as a geographic for the Ruhr region of western Germany while Atgron wants to providing marrying couples with .wed for their wedding-related web sites.

Afilias’ .pink belongs to that unusual category of applied-for gTLDs that I’m becoming increasingly interested in: the non-SEO generic.

The vast majority of generic, open gTLDs that have been applied for (mostly by domainer-driven portfolio applicants) in the current round are essentially “keyword” strings — stuff that’s very likely going to prove useful in search engine optimization.

I’m talking here about stuff like .music, .video, .football and .porn. These may prove popular with small business web site owners and domainers.

But there’s another category of generic gTLDs I believe have little SEO value but offer a certain quirky-cool branding opportunity that may prove attractive to regular, non-commercial registrants.

I’d put strings such as .ninja, .bom, .wow, .hot, .love and .pink into this category.

I’m very curious to see how these kinds of strings fare over the next few years, as I suspect we may see many more such applications in future gTLD rounds.

New gTLD delegations probably not delayed by US government shutdown

Kevin Murphy, September 30, 2013, Domain Policy

If the US government shuts down tonight, would that delay the delegation of new gTLDs?

Probably not, from what I gather.

For reasons beyond the ken of most sane people*, the US legislature is currently deadlocked on a bill that would provide the funds to keep the executive wing of the government running.

It’s looking increasingly likely that the government is to shut down.

That’s a big deal for a whole range of important reasons, obviously, but it also has implications for new gTLD applicants.

The DNS root zone belongs to the US government, remember.

It’s managed by Verisign and ICANN’s IANA department suggests appropriate changes, but without USG the tripartite relationship that enables new TLDs to be delegated falls apart.

Without the NTIA in the mix, ICANN can make all the root zone change requests it wants and Verisign lacks the authority to execute them.

So there’s a reason to be worried if you’re a new gTLD applicant. If the National Telecommunications and Information Administration is out of the office for an indeterminate period, you may be looking at more delays.

However, it looks like the NTIA may have got that covered.

According to the Department of Commerce’s “Plan for Orderly Shutdown Due to Lapse of Congressional Appropriations”, (pdf) a “Telecomm. Policy Specialist”, tasked with “Emergency protection of internet management (ICANN)” is on the list of “Excepted Positions”.

I gather that this means that there’s going to be an NTIA person working during any possible shutdown to manage root zone changes, including gTLD delegations.

* It’s been several years since I lived in the States, and my grasp of the nuance of American political life has waned accordingly, but I gather the shutdown is somehow related to protecting insurance companies’ profit margins. Or defending the constitutional right to get better healthcare than people poorer than yourself. Something like that.