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Three-way legal fight over .eco breaks out

Planet.eco, an emergent .eco gTLD applicant with a trademark on “.eco” is suing two rival applicants for trademark infringement and cybersquatting in a California court.

The company sued DotEco (affiliated with Minds + Machines and Top Level Domain Holdings), along with CEO Fred Krueger, and Canada-based Big Room on March 2.

It’s looking for millions of dollars of damages and an injunction preventing both rival applicants from applying for .eco.

In late March, DotEco filed a counter-suit, alleging that Planet.eco’s .eco trademark was fraudulently obtained and that the company is trying to illegally stifle competition for the .eco gTLD.

That’s the short version. It’s a complex story with a great deal of history and more than a little bogus behavior.

DomainIncite PRO subscribers can read the full DI analysis, along with more PDFs than you could ever possibly need, here.

(Thanks to reader Tom Gilles for the tip)

M+M joins .music fight

Kevin Murphy, March 23, 2012, Domain Registries

Minds + Machines parent Top Level Domain Holdings has become the third company to publicly confirm an application for the .music top-level domain.

TLDH has partnered with “music industry figures including artists, managers, music producers and lawyers” going by the name of LHL TLD Investment Partners on a joint-venture bid.

M+M will provide the technical back-end for the applicant.

The other two known applicants for .music are Far Further, which has the backing of most major music trade groups, and the long-running MyTLD/Music.us/Roussos Group campaign.

Assuming Roussos and TLDH can each pull one plausible public comment objection out of the bag, Far Further’s Community Priority Evaluation is probably scuppered.

With two objections, a CPE candidate needs a perfect 14/14 score on the remaining criteria, which is likely going to be pretty difficult when you’re applying for such a generic term.

In other new gTLD applicant news…

.miami — TLDH also announced today that it plans to apply for .miami, having secured the support of City of Miami in a 4-0 vote of its commissioners.

.nyc – The city of New York has reportedly granted its consent to Neustar to apply for .nyc, apparently beating out other wannabe applicants including TLDH.

.vlaanderen – The Flemish government has awarded the right to apply for .vlaanderen (.flanders) to DNS.be. The registry will reportedly work with Nic.at on the application.

.nagoya – GMO Registry has announced a bid for the Japanese city gTLD .nagoya, with the backing of the local government. Nagoya is Japan’s third-largest city.

M+M in bizarre Bengaluru gTLD bid

Kevin Murphy, February 29, 2012, Domain Registries

Minds + Machines is to apply to ICANN for .bangaluru, a top-level domain for the Indian city of Bengaluru.

Parent Top Level Domain Holdings announced today that M+M will enter into a joint venture with local partner India TL Domain for the application.

Confusingly, the proposed gTLD appears to be a misspelling – or at least a very uncommon spelling – of the name of the city in question.

The city is still often known by its old colonial name, Bangalore. But in 2006 it officially renamed itself Bengaluru, its original Kannada name.

But a TLDH spokesperson has confirmed that the company is applying for .bangaluru, with an A, which does not appear to be an official name for the city in any language.

The application has the support of the Bengaluru’s mayor’s office, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, which is a prerequisite for city gTLD applications.

On its web site, BBMP calls the city “Bengaluru”, but in its letter of support for the M+M/ITLD bid it refers to “Bangaluru” and “dot Bangaluru”.

Is the city going to get a gTLD with a confusing Latin spelling? It certainly appears that way.

Bengaluru is India’s third most-populous city, with six million citizens. It’s known as India’s tech hub.

M+M and ITLD have also previously been linked to a joint-venture bid for .mumbai, though a question mark was raised over its governmental support last August.

M+M registers for another 20 gTLD applications

Kevin Murphy, February 21, 2012, Domain Registries

Minds + Machines parent Top Level Domain Holdings has registered for another 20 new gTLD application slots with ICANN, bringing its total to date to 40.

The TLD Application System slots are for filing gTLD applications for itself and on behalf of M+M clients, the company said this morning.

A week ago, ICANN said that 100 registrations had been made with TAS.

TLDH is known to be involved in applications for .gay and .eco, among others. It registered its first 20 application slots during the first week of the application window, mid-January.

M+M adds $14m to new gTLDs war chest

Kevin Murphy, February 10, 2012, Domain Registries

Top Level Domain Holdings has raised £9 million ($14.2 million) with a share sale, boosting its ability to apply for new generic top-level domains.

TLDH, which is listed on the Alternative Investment Market in London, owns registry provider Minds + Machines and has interests in a number of new gTLD joint ventures.

The shares were sold to “institutional and other investors” for 8.25p each, the company said.

TLDH now has a cash pile of about $25 million, CEO Antony Van Couvering said in a press release. Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush added:

TLDH management believes that the increased capital will allow it to increase significantly the number of applications it is able to make, allowing it to develop a wider, more diversified portfolio of names in multiple languages and scripts

The current cash balance would allow it to apply for 135 gTLDs, if it blew the whole lot on application fees.

I expect its actual number of applications to be more like 30, which would leave TLDH with about $20 million in reserve for fighting contested applications and start-up costs.

It could also try to raise some more money from the markets when some of its gTLD applications start being approved, of course.

Being the only public company entirely devoted to new gTLDs may leave TLDH in an interesting tactical position a few months from now — competing applicants are going to have a relatively good insight into the strength of its hand if any of its applications go to auction.