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ICM makes $4m from .xxx Founders

Kevin Murphy, August 8, 2011, Domain Registries

ICM Registry made just shy of $4 million from its Founders Program, which allocated premium .xxx domain names to porn webmasters.

As Elliot’s Blog reported, uber-domainer Frank Schilling’s Name Administration has picked up 33 .xxx domains for a seven-figure sum.

Schilling got his hands on the likes of amateur.xxx, asian.xxx, hardcore.xxx, hot.xxx, porno.xxx and many other “super premiums” domains.

He said in a statement provided by ICM:

I believe that .XXX, unlike many other new TLDs, offers SLD registrants the opportunity for long term type-in traffic. Many people navigate in a way that suggests they believe .XXX existed all along. Few strings other than .XXX share this attribute.

ICM president Stuart Lawley said that .xxx was a popular type-in TLD long before it even existed on the internet. Apparently the non-existent .web is also pretty good for traffic.

While on the face of it selling these super-premiums to a domainer may look like ICM shirking its duties to its sponsored community, Schilling like all .xxx Founders has committed to develop web sites at all of his .xxx names – the domains are not for flipping.

ICM says it has allocated some 1,500 domains to 35 registrants under the Founders Program.

Beate-Uhse, Germany’s biggest adult retailer, has picked up kostenlos.xxx (“free”) among others.

Channel 1 Releasing, a Californian gay porn publisher, has grabbed several domains related to its niche, such as muscle.xxx and jock.xxx.

I understand one UK company has also decided to rebrand its entire stable around the .xxx extension.

While many domains sold for six figures, not all Founders paid big bucks – many got their names for the standard registration fee in exchange for their development commitments.

Who owns Osama Bin Laden domains?

Kevin Murphy, May 2, 2011, Domain Sales

With the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death reverberating throughout the world today, I wonder if the price of domain names matching his name just went up or down?

Doubtless, traffic to such domains will go up in the near term.

In terms of resale, I expect the domains may become slightly less “untouchable” now the guy’s been put out of business.

Before too long, he could be a figure of mainly historical interest, a Big Bad from the past, like Adolf Hitler or Pol Pot.

On the other hand, how many people really want to risk raising the ire of terrorists (or risk encouraging them) by buying and developing a web site at a Bin Laden-related domain name?

It’s too early to say for sure, but it’s quite possible Bin Laden’s name may acquire some kind of legend/martyr status in certain parts of the world, making it even more untouchable.

osamabinladen.com was originally registered in 2000 and belongs to a Karachi, Pakistan-based company called Computer Reflexes International. It resolves to a “for sale” notice.

usamabinladen.com and usamabinladin.com, alternate spellings used by some in the media and US government, are parked and have been registered to Frank Schilling’s Name Administration since 2003.

binladen.com is also parked, owned by “Pool.com In Trust”, apparently one of a bunch of domains it was awarded in a lawsuit against a former partner registrar.

osama.com belongs to an Italian pen company actually called Osama.

Schilling also owns polpot.com, incidentally, while adolfhitler.com belongs to Rick Latona.

VeriSign scores big win in .com pricing lawsuit

Kevin Murphy, February 14, 2011, Domain Registries

VeriSign has successfully had an antitrust lawsuit, which claims the company has been raising .com domain name prices anti-competitively, dismissed by a California court.

While it’s encouraging news if you’re a VeriSign shareholder, the Coalition for ICANN Transparency, which filed the suit, will be allowed to amend and re-file its complaint.

The basis for the dismissal (pdf) goes to the central irony of CFIT – the fact that, despite its noble name, it’s not itself a particularly transparent organization.

CFIT was set up in 2005 in order to sue ICANN and VeriSign over their deal that gave VeriSign the right to raise the price of .com and .net domains, and to keep its registry contracts on favorable terms.

While it was cagey about who was backing the organization, those of us who attended the ICANN meeting in Vancouver that year knew from the off it was primarily a front for Momentous.ca, owner of Pool.com and other domainer services.

In dismissing the case last Friday, Judge Ronald Whyte decided that CFIT’s membership is vague enough to raise a question over its standing to sue on antitrust grounds. He wrote:

By failing to identify its purported members, CFIT has made it impossible to determine whether the members are participants in the alleged relevant markets, or whether they have suffered antitrust injury. Because the [Third Amended Complaint] identifies no members of CFIT, it must be dismissed.

While CFIT had disclosed some time ago Pool.com’s involvement, it recently tried to add uber-domainer Frank Schilling’s Name Administration Inc and iRegistry Corp to the list of its financial supporters.

But Whyte was not convinced that the two companies were CFIT “members” with standing to sue.

Whyte decided that CFIT’s complaint, “fatally fails to allege facts showing that iRegistry or Name Administration were financial supporters or members at the time the complaint was filed”.

He also denied CFIT’s demand for a jury trial.

CFIT wants VeriSign to return all the excess profits it has made on .com registrations since it started raising its prices above $6.

If CFIT were to win, it would severely curtail VeriSign’s ability to grow its registry business, and could lead to billions being wiped off its accounts.

The organization has been given leave to file a fourth amended complaint, so it’s not over yet.

Black Friday domain fetches $90,000

Kevin Murphy, November 19, 2010, Domain Sales

Sedo is reporting that the the domain name blackfridaysales.com has sold for $90,000.

It appears to be have been registered to Frank Schilling’s Name Administration for the last couple of days.

Black Friday is the name given to the day after Thanksgiving in the US, when pre-Christmas sales traditionally kick off. This year, it falls on November 26.

The operator of the domain blackfriday.com, which was a 2001 $10 hand registration, says it received over 18 million unique visitors last year, and that 70% of them were direct type-in visits.

Oddly, blackfriday.info seems to rank better in Google for the search [black friday], for me at least.

Other five figure sales Sedo is currently reporting include valuable.com ($28,500), webengine.com ($50,000), adhoc.com (65,000 euros), rodon.com (20,000 euros), uganda.de (20,000 euros) and littleangels.com ($50,000).