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CentralNic gets its foot in the door as Famous Four back-end

Kevin Murphy, February 18, 2014, Domain Registries

New gTLD portfolio applicant Famous Four Media has selected CentralNic to provide back-end registry services, joining existing providers ARI Registry Services and Neustar.

CentralNic will be “a preferred provider” of Domain Venture Partners, which is the parent company of Famous Four’s 60 new gTLD applicants, according to a joint statement issued by the companies today.

Neither firm wanted to give any firm details about how CentralNic fits into Famous Four’s strategy, such as whether CentralNic might replace existing back-ends as it did with 27 formerly GMO Registry bids.

Famous Four is already partnered with Neustar on 52 new gTLD applications and ARI on five more.

DVP chief operating officer Charles Melvin told DI in a statement:

CentralNic will sit as one of our preferred backend technology partners. We are in the process of agreeing terms with a limited number of select providers to sit on our preferred panel. Until such agreements have been put in place it would be inappropriate for us to comment on them.

The deal is related to DVP II, an investment vehicle through which DVP hopes to raise up to $400 million “to acquire Top-Level Domain registries, some of which are already live.”

We were leaked a copy of a June 2013 investor presentation related to DVP II, in which the company said its back-end partner had “the lowest fees in the industry”.

With its new “preferred panel”, it looks like the company is hedging its bets.

NCC buys .trust new gTLD from Deutsche Post

Kevin Murphy, February 17, 2014, Domain Registries

NCC Group, owner of .secure applicant Artemis, has bought the rights to .trust from Deutsche Post, which has an uncontested bid for the new gTLD but decided it doesn’t want it.

The price tag of the deal was not disclosed.

NCC, which is also one of the two major data escrow providers supporting new gTLD applicants, said in a statement:

Deutsche Post originally obtained the gTLD through ICANN’s new gTLD allocation process during 2013 but has now chosen not to utilise it.

NCC Group will use .trust as the primary vehicle for launching its Artemis internet security service, which aims to create global internet safety through a secure and trusted environment for selected customers.

The Group remains in the contention stage with its application to ICANN for the .secure gTLD. It believes that there will be a benefit in having a number of complementary named gTLDs, all of which offer the same high levels of internet security.

While Artemis has applied for .secure, it’s facing competition from the much richer Amazon.

Its initial hope that Amazon’s bid would be rejected due to the controversy over “closed generics” seems to have been dashed after Amazon was allowed to change its application.

NCC may be characterizing .trust as an “additional” security TLD, but it’s quite possible it will be its “only” one.

Deutsche Post, which as owner of DHL is the world’s largest courier service, has passed Initial Evaluation on .trust but has not yet signed its ICANN contract.

ICANN’s web site still shows Deutsche Post as the applicant for .trust and it’s not clear from NCC’s statement how the transfer would be handled.

First new gTLD cybersquatting case goes to IBM

Kevin Murphy, February 14, 2014, Domain Policy

IBM has won the first Uniform Rapid Suspension case to be filed against a new gTLD domain name.

National Arbitration Forum panelist Darryl Wilson handed down the perfunctory decision February 12, just seven days after IBM complained about ibm.ventures and ibm.guru.

Both domains have now been suspended, redirecting to a placeholder web site which states:

This Site is Suspended

The Domain Name you’ve entered is not available. It has been taken down as a result of dispute resolution proceedings pursuant to the Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS) Procedure and Rules.

For more information relating to the URS, please visit: http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/applicants/urs

It was a slam dunk case, as you might imagine — the URS is designed to handle slam-dunk cases.

The registrant, who we estimate spent $2,500 on the two names, did not do himself any favors by redirecting both names to IBM’s .com site.

As we and Wilson both noted, this showed that he’d registered the names with IBM in mind.

IBM’s mark is included in the Trademark Clearinghouse, so the registrant will have been given a warning at the point of registration that he may be about to infringe someone’s IP rights.

Since the names were registered IBM, we’re told, has purchased a Domain Protected Marks List block from the registry, Donuts, which will prevent the names being re-registered when they expire.

.photography, on day one, becomes second-largest new gTLD

Kevin Murphy, February 12, 2014, Domain Registries

Donuts’ new gTLD .photography has become the second-largest new gTLD after .guru, just a few hours after it hit its regular general availability pricing.

Zone files dated 1840 UTC today show that .photography had 8,878 domains, compared to .guru’s 27,698 and .bike’s 6,524.

That’s just a few hours after .photography finished with its week-long premium-pricing Early Access Program period. By contrast, .bike and .guru finished their EAPs exactly a week ago.

The other six Donuts gTLDs going to regular pricing this afternoon fared less well, with .gallery at 2,869, .estate at 2,465, .equipment at 1,900, .graphics at 1,368, .lighting at 1,338 and .camera at 1,227.

Those are the numbers for about two and a half hours of proper general availability, which will reflect hand-registrations and any pre-registrations that were made over the last few months.

DI PRO subscribers can see the full list of new gTLD zone file counts here.

ICANN reveals gTLD objections appeals process

Kevin Murphy, February 12, 2014, Domain Policy

Two new gTLD applicants would get the opportunity to formally appeal String Confusion Objection decisions that went against them, under plans laid out by ICANN today.

DERCars and United TLD (Rightside), which lost SCOs for their .cars and .cam applications respectively, would be the only parties able to appeal “inconsistent” objection rulings.

DERCars was told that its .cars was too similar to Google’s .car, forcing the two bids into a contention set. But Google lost similar SCO cases against two other .cars applicants.

Likewise, Rightside’s .cam application was killed off by a Verisign SCO that stated .cam and .com were too similar, despite two other .cam applicants prevailing in virtually identical cases.

Now ICANN plans to give both losing applicants the right to appeal these decisions to a three-person panel of “Last Resort” operated by the International Centre for Dispute Resolution.

ICDR was the body overseeing the original SCO process too.

Notably, ICANN’s new plan would not give Verisign and Google the right to appeal the two .cars/.cam cases they lost.

Only the applicant for the application that was objected to in the underlying SCO and lost (“Losing Applicant”) would have the option of whether to have the Expert Determination from that SCO reviewed.

There seems to be a presumption by ICANN already that what you might call the “minority” decision — ie, the one decision that disagreed with the other two — was the inconsistent one.

I wonder if that’s fair on Verisign.

Verisign lost two .cam SCO cases but won one, and only the one it won is open for appeal. But the two cases it lost were both decided by the same ICDR panelist, Murray Lorne Smith, on the same grounds. The decisions on .cam were really more 50-50 than they look.

According to the ICANN plan, there are two ways an appeal could go: the panel could decide that the original ruling should be reversed, or not. The standard of the review is:

Could the Expert Panel have reasonably come to the decision reached on the underlying SCO through an appropriate application of the standard of review as set forth in the Applicant Guidebook and procedural rules?

The appeals panelists would basically be asked to decide whether the original panelists are competent or not.

If the rulings were not reversed, the inconsistency would remain in place, making the contention sets for .car, .cars and .cam stay rather confusing.

ICANN said it would pay the appeals panel’s costs.

The plan (pdf) is now open for public comment.