At least two new gTLD applicants reckon ICANN has screwed up their Initial Evaluation, flunking their applications due to missing or mishandled communications.
Following Friday’s batch of IE results, which saw four failures, one angry applicant got in touch with DI to complain about discrepancies in how his bids were scored.
Dot Registry has applied for five “corporate identifier” strings — .inc, .corp, .ltd, .llc and .llp — and has made decent progress convincing the powers that be that they will be operated responsibly.
On Friday, its .inc bid passed its Initial Evaluation with flying colors while .llc and .ltd were marked as “Eligible For Extended Evaluation”, a polite code phrase for #fail.
Both of the unsuccessful bids scored 0 on question 50, “Funding Critical Registry Functions”, which is an automatic failure no matter what the overall score on the financial evaluation.
Applicants are scored on question 50 from 0 to 3 by showing that they have a “Continuing Operations Instrument” to cover three years of operations in the event that their registry fails.
Most applicants have been submitting letters of credit supplied by their bank, which promise to pay ICANN these emergency funds should the need arise.
A zero score indicates basically that no COI was provided.
But CEO Shaul Jolles claims that Dot Registry submitted a single letter of credit to cover all five applications, later amended at ICANN’s request so that each string in the portfolio was broken out individually.
“We then received a note that they now have whatever they needed and it’s resolved,” he said.
He noted that .inc, which passed on Friday with maximum score of 3, is covered by exactly the same LOC as the two applications that scored a 0, which doesn’t make much sense.
A second applicant, which does not currently wish to be named, has told DI that it failed its financial evaluation on a question for which it received no Clarifying Questions.
CQs are the handy method by which ICANN gave applicants a second shot at getting their applications right. Hundreds have been issued, the vast majority related to financial questions.
The common complaint to both failing applicants is that at no point did ICANN inform the applicant that its application was deficient.
We understand both applicants are currently in touch with ICANN management in order to try to get their predicaments resolved.
Four new gTLD applications have been withdrawn so far this week, including the first to come from .info operator Afilias.
Afilias has pulled its bid for .mail — the second applicant to do so — due to the number of competitors for the string.
A spokesperson said in an email:
The company felt there were simply too many groups in contention for this domain and we’d rather focus our energy supporting and helping to grow the .POST domain, for which we are the [technical services provider].
There are now five applicants competing for the string, including Google, Amazon and Donuts, but they’re all facing objections from the United States Postal Service and the Universal Postal Union, which runs .post.
Elsewhere this week, Directi has ended its bid for .movie, a contention set with seven other bidders.
The company declined to comment on the reasons for the withdrawal, so we probably can’t entirely rule out some kind of partnership with one or more other applicants.
Today we’ve also seen the withdrawal of applications for .ltd and .inc, both belonging to a Dutch company called C.V. TLDcare. I don’t know much about these guys, other than it used OpenRegistry as its technical partner and that .inc and .ltd were its only two applications.
Interesting fact: not a single “corporate identifier” application (.llp, .corp, .ltd, .inc, .llc) has passed Initial Evaluation yet, but seven applications have been withdrawn.
It’s a controversial category, with many US state attorneys general very unhappy about any of these strings being delegated without safeguards.
The latest four withdrawals bring the total to 63.
The secretary of state for Delaware has come out in opposition to new gTLD applications such as .inc, .corp and .ltd.
Bullock wrote (emphasis added):
none of the applications contains a fully thought out, achievable, transparent and enforceable system for fully safeguarding that a firm remains legally registered with a company registry at all times.
none of the applications adequately safeguards consumers, legitimate businesses, the public at large, state regulators, and the internet itself from the risks that “company endings” are used for fraudulent or misleading purposes.
Therefore, at this stage of the gTLD process, I strongly believe that the public is best served if these company endings are not made available for use. There is no overriding public policy purpose or strong business case for making them available and the opportunity for fraud and abuse is very high.
There are a few dozen corporate-themed gTLD applications, including contests for: .inc, .corp, .llp, .ltd, .company and .gmbh.
Back in March, before any of the applications had been published, Bullock and other secretaries of state said that such gTLDs should only be approved with “restrictions that would attempt to protect legitimate businesses and consumers from confusion or fraud.”
His letter suggested that DOT Registry’s proposals might be adequate, but he’s apparently changed his mind after reading the applications.
Based on the March letters, I’d say there’s a strong possibility of objections being filed against some or all of these applications.
Delaware is of course the state most big US companies choose to register themselves in, due to its generous company laws.