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ICM extends .xxx sunrise

Kevin Murphy, October 28, 2011, Domain Registries

ICM Registry, which has evidently seen a last-minute rush of defensive registration applications this week, has extended its sunrise period until Monday.

It had been due to end at 4pm UTC today.

The company just issued this statement:

Due to unprecedented demand in the last week and following several requests from major registrars for more processing time for their backlogs, ICM Registry has extended the Sunrise A and Sunrise B registration periods for an additional three days to conclude Monday, October 31, 2011 at 16:00 UTC (Noon ET). This extension provides prospective registrants valuable time to secure their domains and protect their brands.

Sunrise A is for people in the porn business, B is the “block” for companies outside the “biz” that want to make sure their brands do not become associated with porn.

Guess which has been most popular. (It’s B.)

ICM originally said it expected 10,000 sunrise registrations, but it blew through that estimate weeks ago. The last published count was 42,000, on Monday, with “thousands” coming in daily,

If it hits 70,000 by Monday I will not be surprised.

.xxx sunrise on track for 50,000 domains

Kevin Murphy, October 25, 2011, Domain Registries

ICM Registry has seen over 42,000 sunrise applications since September 7, with “thousands more pouring in each day”, according to the company.

With a last-minute rush possible by porn-scared brand owners before the process closes this Friday, .xxx may well hit 50,000 sunrise applications.

The 42,000 number seems to cover all three sunrise phases – the ‘B’ process for non-porn companies and the AT and AD processes for pornographers.

Sunrise B applications cost $162 at the registry level and over $200 from registrars. ICM’s breakeven point was 10,000 applications, so it will be profitable to the tune of several million dollars.

Because Sunrise B applications incur a one-time fee, ICM has essentially made a windfall now at the expense of recurring revenues from renewals.

IFFOR hires McCarthy to handle .xxx outreach

Kevin Murphy, October 10, 2011, Domain Registries

Kieren McCarthy, CEO of the .nxt new top-level domains conference, has reportedly joined the International Foundation For Online Responsibility to manage policy communications.

IFFOR is the sponsoring organization for ICM Registry’s new gTLD, responsible for setting the policies that will govern .xxx domain names.

ICM’s opponents in the Free Speech Coalition fear IFFOR, claiming it will be both toothless in the light of ICM’s “veto power” over policies (which ICM disputes) and dangerous to .xxx domain holders.

As well as outreach, McCarthy will be tasked with “developing the tools through which Internet community members and IFFOR Policy Council members can reach consensus positions”, according to Xbiz.

He has the right background. He’s the former general manager for public participation at ICANN, and lately one of its fiercest critics. More recently, he’s also done some consulting work for ICM.

Hopefully one of his first actions at IFFOR will be to add DI to the press release mailing list, so I don’t have to source Xbiz the next time the organization has news to report.

Will URS really be as cheap as ICANN says?

Kevin Murphy, September 29, 2011, Domain Policy

I’m having a hard time believing that trademark holders will be able to enforce their rights in new top-level domains for just $300.

The Uniform Rapid Suspension policy (pdf) is one of the new systems ICANN is putting in place to deter cybersquatters from abusing trademarks in new gTLDs.

It’s very similar to the existing UDRP, but it’s quicker and it only deals with the suspension – not transfer – of infringing domain names.

No URS arbitration provider has yet been appointed, but ICANN’s Applicant Guidebook, which spells out the policy, currently estimates a price of $300 per single-domain filing.

At least twice during the newdomains.org conference in Munich this week I heard ICANN representatives quote a price between $300 and $500.

I’m wondering how realistic this is.

Typically, domain arbitration fees are split between the provider, which receives a third, and the panelist, who receives the remaining two thirds.

With a $300 fee, that’s $100 to the provider and $200 to the sole panelist – who must be an experienced trademark lawyer or similar – compared to a $500/$1,000 split with the UDRP.

My question is: how many trademark lawyers will get out of bed for $200?

The URS gives panelists between three and five days to come up with a decision, but I’m guessing that you’d be lucky, for $200, to buy three to five hours of a panelist’s time.

Even I charge more than $200 for half a day’s work.

The Rapid Evaluation Service recently introduced by ICM Registry, which serves essentially the same purpose as URS but for the .xxx gTLD, costs $1,300 in National Arbitration Forum fees.

Like URS, the RES is designed for a speedy turnaround – just three days for a preliminary evaluation – of clear-cut cybersquatting cases.

Like URS, complaints submitted using RES have a tight word-count limit, to minimize the amount of work panelists have to do.

With that in mind, it seems to me that a $300 fee for URS may be unrealistic. Even the $500 upper-end ICANN estimate may be optimistic.

It will be interesting to see if ICANN’s negotiating clout with likely URS providers is better than ICM’s and, more importantly, to see whether $200 is enough to buy consistent, reliable decisions from panelists.

RodBeckstrom.xxx will never see the light of day

Kevin Murphy, September 14, 2011, Domain Registries

ICM Registry has reserved the names of dozens of ICANN directors, former directors and members of staff from the new .xxx top-level domain.

RodBeckstrom.xxx, it seems, is going to be permanently protected from cybersquatters.

I’ve reported before that thousands of celebrity names – about 4,300, it has since emerged – were placed into Registry Reserved status.

I can’t believe it did not occur to me until now to see if any domain industry “personalities” were also given the same preemptive protection.

It seems that every current member of the ICANN board has had their name reserved. One borderline case appears to be Ray Plzak, who’s only protected as RaymondAPlzak.xxx.

Two former ICANN directors who left the board this year – Peter Dengate Thrush and Rita Rodin Johnston – are also reserved, though Rita only as RitaRodin.xxx.

Further back, there’s spotty coverage. Raimundo Beca (left the board in 2010), former CEO Paul Twomey (2009) and Michael Palage (2006) have their names reserved, but many others have not.

Lots of ICANN staffers have been bestowed reserved status too, but again it appears to be quite random whether they’re included or not.

It does not appear to be based on rank (some VPs are excluded, but some mid-level employee names are reserved) or profile (some reserved names will be unfamiliar to anybody who does not attend ICANN meetings).

ICM has also reserved the names of all of its own employees.

I have been unable to find any big industry names from outside ICM and ICANN that are on the list. Bob Parsons is going to have to defensively register bobparsons.xxx, for example.

It’s worth noting that it’s against ICM’s rules to register any personal name under .xxx that is not the registrant’s own legal name or stage name, no matter what their intentions are.

Unlike .com, with .xxx registrants have to enter into an agreement with the registry – not just the registrar – when they buy a .xxx name.

It’s quite possible – though I’ve yet to confirm – that ICM will be able to disable any unauthorized personal name registered in .xxx without the offended party having to file an expensive claim.

And because registrants’ identities will be checked by ICM at the time of registration, even if they use Whois privacy, that should presumably be fairly easy to enforce in most cases.