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Millions of new gTLD domains to be released as collision blocks end

Kevin Murphy, November 17, 2014, Domain Registries

Millions of new gTLD domain names are set to start being released, as ICANN-mandated name collision blocks start getting lifted.

Starting yesterday, domains that have been blocked from registration due to name collisions can now be released by the registries.

About 95,000 names in gTLDs such as .nyc, .tattoo, .webcam and .wang have already ended their mandatory “controlled interruption” period and hundreds of thousands more are expected to be unblocked on a weekly basis over the coming months (and years).

Want to register sex.nyc, poker.bid or garage.capetown? That may soon be possible. Those names, along with hundreds of other non-gibberish domains, are no longer subject to mandatory blocks.

Roughly 45 new gTLDs have ended their CI periods over the last two days. Here are the Latin-script ones:

.bid, .buzz, .cancerresearch, .capetown, .caravan, .cologne, .cymru, .durban, .gent, .jetzt, .joburg, .koeln, .krd, .kred, .lacaixa, .nrw, .nyc, .praxi, .qpon, .quebec, .ren, .ruhr, .saarland, .wang, .webcam, .whoswho, .wtc, .citic, .juegos, .luxury, .menu, .monash, .physio, .reise, .tattoo, .tirol, .versicherung, .vlaanderen and .voting

Another half dozen or so non-Latin script gTLDs have also finished with CI.

There are over 17,500 newly unblocked names in .nyc alone. Over the whole new gTLD program, over 9.8 million name collisions are to be temporarily blocked.

Name collisions are domains in new gTLDs that were already receiving DNS root traffic well before the gTLD was delegated, suggesting that they may be in use on internal networks.

To avoid possible harm from collisions, ICANN forced registries to make these names unavailable for registration and to resolve to the deliberately non-functional and odd-looking IP address 127.0.53.53.

Each affected name had to be treated in this way for 90 days. The first TLDs started implementing CI on August 18, so the first batch of registries ended their programs yesterday.

So, will every domain that was on a registry’s collision list be available to buy right away?

No.

ICANN hasn’t told registries that they must release names as soon as their CI period is over, so it appears to be at the registries’ discretion when the names are released. I gather some intend to do so as soon as today.

Also, any name that was blocked due to a collision and also appears in the Trademark Clearinghouse will have to remain blocked until it has been subject to a Sunrise period.

Some registries, such as Donuts, have already made their collision names available (but not activated in the DNS) under their original Sunrise periods so will be able to release unclaimed names at the same time as all the rest.

Other registries will have to talk to ICANN about a secondary sunrise period, to give trademark holders their first chance to grab the previously blocked names.

Furthermore, domains that the registry planned to reserved as “premiums” will continue to be reserved as premiums.

$10 million to move to a dot-brand? Quebec says “non”

Kevin Murphy, November 17, 2014, Domain Registries

One of the biggest hypothetical barriers to the adoption of dot-brand gTLDs has always been the likely cost of migration, but until now nobody’s really thrown around any figures.

The Government of Quebec has decided against rebranding to the forthcoming .quebec gTLD, saying the migration would cost it CAD 12 million ($10.6 million), according to local reports.

The Canadian Press press reported over the weekend that Quebec will still to its existing gouv.qc.ca addresses and therefore save itself a bundle of cash at a time when austerity measures are in place.

The timing of the revelation is unfortunate for PointQuebec, the .quebec registry, which is due to go to general availability tomorrow.

The application for .quebec, a protected geographic string under ICANN rules, was made with the support of the Canadian province.

The decision by the government is not a death sentence for the gTLD, but it is the loss of a significant anchor tenant at the worst possible moment.

It also highlights what we all already knew — for a large organization, changing your domain name is complicated and expensive.

Not only do myriad IT systems need to be migrated to the new domain, you also need to think about things as trivial as letter heads and signage.

The cost of such a switch is a key reason we’re unlikely to see many dot-brand owners making a full-scale switch to their new gTLD in the short term.

Noss hints at winning .online auction bid

Kevin Murphy, November 13, 2014, Domain Registries

A triumvirate of domain name companies led by Radix paid well over $7 million for the .online new gTLD, judging by comments made by Tucows CEO in an analysts call yesterday.

As the company reported its third-quarter financial numbers, Noss said of .online, which was recently auctioned:

While we are bound by confidentiality with respect to the value of the transaction, we can point to amounts paid in other gTLDs’ auctions in the public domain — like $6.8 million for .tech, $5.6 million for .realty, or the $4.6 million that Amazon paid for .buy — and let you decide what you think .online should be valued, relative to those more narrowly targeted extensions.

Radix won the private auction with financial backing from Tucows and NameCheap.

The three companies intend to set up a new joint venture to manage the .online registry, as we reported yesterday, with each company contributing between $4 million and $5 million.

Assuming at least one company is contributing $4 million and at least one is contributing $5 million, that works out to a total of $13 million to $14 million, earmarked for the auction and seed funding for the new venture.

Based on that knowledge, an assumption that the new company will want a couple of million to launch, and Noss’s comments yesterday, I’d peg the .online sale price in the $10-12 million range.

Radix business head Sandeep Ramchamdani told us yesterday that the company plans to market .online with some “hi-decibel advertising” and participation in events such as Disrupt and South by Southwest.

Judge blocks seizure of Iran’s ccTLD

Kevin Murphy, November 13, 2014, Domain Policy

ICANN has won a court battle, and avoided a major political incident, over an attempt by terrorism victims to seize ccTLDs belonging to Iran, Korea and Syria.

A District of Columbia judge ruled this week that while ccTLDs may be a form of “property” under the law, they’re not “attachable” property.

Attachment is a legal concept used when creditors attempt to seize assets belonging to debtors.

The ruling overturns a request by a group of terrorism survivors, led by attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, to have .ir, .sy, .kp, سور, and ايران. transferred to them in lieu of payment of previous court rulings.

Darshan-Leitner has previously secured US court judgments amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars against the three nations. Because the nations have not paid these penalties, she’s been using the courts to seize state-owned assets in the US instead.

But US District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled (pdf) earlier this week:

the country code Top Level Domain names at issue may not be attached in satisfaction of plaintiffs’ judgments because they are not property subject to attachment under District of Columbia law.

However, he added in a footnote:

But the conclusion that ccTLDs may not be attached in satisfaction of a judgment under District of Columbia law does not mean that they cannot be property. It simply means that they are not attachable property within this statutory scheme.

Drawing on “sparse” case law, Lamberth’s rationale appears to be that domain names are not a product, they’re a service. He wrote:

The ccTLDs exist only as they are made operational by the ccTLD managers that administer the registries of second level domains within them and by the parties that cause the ccTLDs to be listed on the root zone file. A ccTLD, like a domain name, cannot be conceptualized apart from the services provided by these parties. The Court cannot order plaintiffs’ insertion into this arrangement.

The ruling, which may of course be challenged by the plaintiffs, helps ICANN and the US government avoid a huge political embarrassment at a time when the links between the two are being dissolved and relations with Iran are defrosting.

Another 11 new gTLDs won at auction

Kevin Murphy, November 12, 2014, Domain Registries

It’s been a busy week for new gTLD application withdrawals, with no fewer than 11 contention sets getting settled over the last few days.

First, as predicted, Radix won .online, after I-Registry withdrew the last remaining competing application, but only with a little help from its friends.

Radix is to form a new joint venture with Tucows and NameCheap to run .online. Each company threw in $4 million to $5 million to cover the cost of the auction and seed funding for the yet-to-be-formed new registry entity.

Another auction saw .site also won by Radix, as a standalone applicant, after withdrawals from Interlink, M+M, Google and Donuts.

.dog went to Donuts after withdrawals from Minds + Machines and Google. Donuts also won .live, after an earlier withdrawal from Microsoft and one this week from Google.

The hotly contested .cloud went to Aruba after withdrawals from M+M, Symantec, Amazon, Google, CloudNames and Donuts.

.boats was won by DERboats after Donuts withdrew.

.book has gone to Amazon, after withdrawals from R.R. Bowker, Famous Four Media, Donuts, DotBook, M+M, Global Domain Registry, Google and NU DOT CO.

Amazon also won .hot, after Donuts and dotHot (affiliated with .jobs) withdrew.

Dish DBS, a Spanish-language US TV company, will operate .latino as a closed dot-brand for its Dish Latino service, after M+M withdrew its competing application.

Japanese domain registrar Interlink won .earth, beating Google.

Motion Picture Domain Registry beat Donuts and Google to .film, meaning the gTLD will “will only be available to film producers and major film studios” under the applicant’s plan to require a Motion Picture Association of America registration number in order to register a name.