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Sedari hires Fay Howard as COO

Kevin Murphy, December 2, 2011, Domain Services

New gTLDs start-up Sedari has recruited Fay Howard, formerly general manager of CENTR, the Council for European National Top Level Domain Registries, as its new chief operating officer.

Howard has also previously worked at Nominet and Eurid, where she wrote the winning application for the .eu registry contract, according to Sedari.

It’s one of a number of recent senior hires for the company, which came out of stealth mode this summer to provide new gTLD applicants with application and registry management services.

Last month, the company hired Philip Shepard as director of policy.

Bulgaria told to forget about .бг

Kevin Murphy, December 1, 2011, Domain Policy

ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom has advised Bulgarians to admit defeat in their ongoing campaign to have .бг approved as a local-script top-level domain to match .bg.

The country’s application for the Cyrillic label was rejected by ICANN’s IDN ccTLD Fast Track program last year because it was found to look too similar to Brazil’s .br.

Nevertheless, the local government and domain name groups have continued to press for the right of appeal, and have indicated they may apply again.

But in an interview with Novinite published today, Beckstrom says:

I would advise the Bulgarians to go for something else. The initial application for .бг was unsuccessful.

The job of ICANN, the organization, is to implement the policies that are developed by the global communities. Those communities did not allow the initial application to go through because of potential visual confusion. So I think the Bulgarians can go back and they can choose what they want to apply for.

The Bulgarians can apply for a three-character name, they can apply for .българия in Cyrillic, it’s really up to the local community.

He goes on to say that Bulgarians could wait for a change in policies then apply again, they could change their desired string, or they could abandon their plans altogether.

However, surveys have found little appetite among the Bulgarian public for alternative strings such as .бгр, .българия, .бя or .бъл.

It’s a tricky problem for ICANN, which is first and foremost tasked with ensuring DNS stability and security.

Confusingly similar TLDs lend themselves to security risks such as phishing, and my understanding is that if .бг were to be approved it would face opposition from interests in Brazil.

The Novinite interview also touches on the possibilities of .софия and .Пловдив, to represent the Bulgarian cities of Sofia and Plovdiv.

The .бг issue was the subject of some apparently heated discussion during the recent Domain Forum new gTLDs conference in Sofia, but I understand Beckstrom had left before that part of the agenda.

You can now watch the entire Domain Forum, including Beckstrom’s introductory keynote, for free on YouTube.

Wanted: somebody to object to new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, November 23, 2011, Domain Policy

ICANN is looking for somebody to object to new top-level domain applications.

It’s put out a call for an Independent Objector, whose job it will be to file formal objections to new gTLDs that he or she determines may not be in the public interest.

ICANN is looking for somebody with an in-depth knowledge of the new gTLD program and extensive experience in multinational organizations.

The IO has been a planned component of the new gTLD program for a couple of years.

The role is designed to provide a way to kill off “highly objectionable” applications in cases where the affected community may lack the resources or organization to pay for an objection.

Essentially, the IO looks at public comments filed with ICANN and decides whether opposition to a gTLD is substantial enough to warrant a formal objection.

The IO may only use two of the Applicant Guidebook’s objection mechanisms – the Community Objection and the Limited Public Interest (formerly “morality and public order”) Objection and not trademark or string confusion grounds.

My view is that we’re likely to see very few “highly objectionable” applications. And now that ICANN has agreed to fund some government objections, the IO is likely to wind up being a bit of an easy ride for whoever successfully applies for the job.

Interested parties have until December 22 to apply. The job description can be found here.

GMO wins .tokyo deal

Kevin Murphy, November 21, 2011, Domain Registries

GMO Registry says it has won local government backing to apply to ICANN for the city top-level domain .tokyo.

The company revealed the news on its Twitter feed today, linking to this Tokyo metropolitan government announcement confirming the story.

While perhaps best-known for its planned .shop application, GMO is probably the registry services company with the most announced new gTLD back-end contract wins to date.

It is also on board to provide the registry for the Japanese regional gTLDs .okinawa and .ryukyu, as well as the brand gTLDs .hitachi and .canon. It already runs Somalia’s .so and Indonesia’s .id ccTLDs.

GMO Registry parent GMO Internet is a pretty big deal in its native Japan. Publicly listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, it has annual revenue of well over half a billion dollars.

CADNA asks for new gTLDs second round

Kevin Murphy, November 18, 2011, Domain Policy

The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse, having spent quite a lot of time and effort opposing ICANN’s new top-level domains program, wants ICANN to name the date for a second round.

In a letter to president Rod Beckstrom today, which was inspired by discussions at the recent What’s At Stake conference, CADNA president Josh Bourne writes:

We ask that the ICANN Board request an Issues Report to formally initiate a policy development process to determine when the next round of new gTLD applications will occur, thereby affirming its commitment to opening a second round in a timely manner.

As I’ve noted previously, ICANN has not named the date for the second round so far because it’s promised the Governmental Advisory Committee that it will review the first round first.

But businesses from outside the domain name industry are feeling like they’re being pressured into making a decision whether to apply for a gTLD they don’t necessarily want, Bourne says.

By not disclosing when it will open future rounds of new gTLD applications, ICANN is creating a condition of scarcity that will inevitably result in a massive land rush, where entities will scramble to apply for new gTLDs for the sole purpose of hypothetically “future-proofing” their identities in the new domain name space, without any immediate intentions to use their new gTLDs for innovative means.

Disclosing when it will open a second application round will not only alleviate the anxiety that businesses are feeling, it will give ICANN the chance to quell the animosity that has developed toward it among the business community.

The whole letter is worth a read. No matter what you think of CADNA, it’s difficult to argue with Bourne’s points (though please do so in the comments if you disagree).

Scare sales tactics are already a key source of mainstream hatred for the domain name industry at the second level. Now would be a good time to prevent the same thing happening at the top level too.

It will look very bad for ICANN in a few years’ time if the root is cluttered with useless, unused gTLDs created just because companies felt pressured into defensive applications.