Number-three registrar Web.com applied for the new gTLD .web in order to protect a trademark, but it’s open to partnerships to secure and manage the string, according to its CEO.
But the .web contention set will take a “considerable amount of time to be resolved”, David Brown told analysts during the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call last night.
“The way we’ve always thought about .web is that given that we have a trademark on the name Web.com, we really needed to apply for .web in order to protect our trademark,” he said.
“In order to protect our trademark globally, we needed to basically defend ourselves by applying for .web, and we’re certainly interested in getting it, but it’s not our core business,” he added.
Web.com, which also owns Network Solutions and Register.com, is one of seven applicants for .web.
But the company did not file any Legal Rights Objections against its competitors, as its trademark may have permitted, reflecting a slightly relaxed attitude to the string that also came across in the yesterday’s call.
Brown said, according to the Seeking Alpha transcript:
We’ll be perfectly content if anyone gets .web because they’re going to distribute it through us, and it’s our name, and we’re advertising and building a brand in the marketplace, and we’re going to be a great deliverer of .web extensions, whoever gets it, whether it’s us or someone else.
He indicated that the ultimate winner of .web is likely to be some kind of cooperative arrangement between applicants. He said:
Our strategy has always been to cooperate. And so we’ve looked at the people who have applied, and we certainly are talking to all of them about who would benefit from this and which team would be the best team to provide services, and so that would be our strategy… We won’t bear the full load of the economics of acquisition ourselves likely. It’ll likely be shared.
To me, this screams “joint venture”, which has always been the way I’ve seen .web pan out. If you recall, when Afilias was formed to apply for .web in 2000, it was a joint venture of many leading registrars of the time.
Brown also said on the call that he expects to see the first new gTLDs get approved in the fourth quarter, but they’ll be the uncontested ones and therefore not particularly lucrative.
Web.com could also be the beneficiary of marketing dollars spent by new gTLDs to secure shelf space, he said.
ICANN’s board of directors is to discuss its response to the Governmental Advisory Committee’s sweeping new gTLDs advice at a meeting next week.
The New gTLD Program Committee has “Plan for responding to the GAC advice issued in Beijing” on its May 8 agenda. It’s the only specific topic listed for discussion at the meeting.
The GAC’s Beijing communique proposed a radical overhaul of the new gTLD approval process, with new anti-abuse requirements for all applicants and strict restrictions on 517 specific applications.
Due the breadth of the GAC’s advice, there are major procedural questions in play that could change the timeline of the new gTLD program, in addition to the substantial questions related to applications.
The document is currently open for public comment, with a close date for first-stage comments of May 14.
It’s not clear whether comments filed before May 8 will be made available to the board committee.
YouPorn owner Manwin Licensing scored a PR coup in its lawsuit against ICM Registry today, when the .xxx registry agreed to steep financial concessions in order to settle the case.
One of the effects of the settlement, at least according to Manwin, is that .xxx is slashing its registry fees from $60 to $7.85 a year for any new domains registered in May.
That brings .xxx into line with .com pricing, temporarily.
The discount only lasts for a month, but it applies to any length of registration up to 10 years. A 10-year registration would see ICM get $78.50, as opposed to the usual $600.
ICM said it will offer price reductions in future years too.
According to Manwin, this reduction is part of the settlement of the anti-trust lawsuit that it filed in November 2011.
“One of Manwin’s key motivations was to make .XXX pricing lower and more competitive,” the company said in a press release.
However, ICM told its registrars about the price reduction over a month ago, so Manwin’s claims might not be as straightforward as they seem.
What’s less open to interpretation is ICM’s agreement to donate $2 from every new .xxx domain created into “a fund designated by Manwin to support the adult entertainment industry”.
In return, Manwin has agreed to drop its boycott of .xxx — ads for .xxx sites will now be allowed to appear on its highly trafficked “tube” sites.
According to a Manwin press release, ICM has also made the humbling admission that “websites hosted on their adult-specific TLDs are not the only responsible and safe adult content websites.”
ICANN has issued two requests for proposals for providers to administer dispute resolution services for the new gTLD program.
It’s looking for outfits to manage the Registry Restrictions Dispute Resolution Procedure (RRDRP) and Trademark Post-Delegation Dispute Resolution Procedure (Trademark PDDRP).
The former is for people who think a Community gTLD registry is mishandling its registration restrictions, the latter for trademark owners who believe a registry is turning a blind eye to cybersquatting.
ICANN has a requirement that the respondents to the RFPs must have experience with dispute resolution, so expect the usual suspects (ie UDRP providers) to wind up on the shortlist.
Following the news that Uniregistry and Top Level Domain Holdings are to work together on the .country new gTLD, larger portfolio applicant Donuts has said it’s not interested in similar arrangements.
While not entirely ruling out joint ventures along the lines of the .country tie-up, company VP of communications Mason Cole told DI that Donuts’ strategy is to completely own each of the new gTLDs it has applied for.
“We aren’t categorically ruling anything out, but any kind of proposal would have to be very compelling,” he said. “Our strategy from the beginning has been, and still is, to secure the strings we applied for and manage them ourselves.”
While TLDH and Uniregistry seem open to such partnerships, Donuts’ stance appears to reduce the likelihood of three-way joint ventures on the four applications for which the three companies are the only applicants.
Donuts is also in two-horse races on an additional 58 strings.
The company, which is believed to have raised $100 million to $150 million in venture capital funding, is a strong supporter of private auctions to settle contention sets.
It originally brought the auctioneer Cramton Associates, which runs ApplicantAuction.com. into the ICANN process.
Cramton, according to a blog post this week, expects to run a mock auction May 23 and start auctions proper five days later.
ICANN does not expect to finish delivering the results of Initial Evaluation until August, so it seems possible some applicants may participate before they know if they’ve passed.