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Famous Four following .sucks playbook with premium pricing for brands?

New gTLD registry Famous Four Media has slapped general availability prices of $500 and up on domain names matching famous brands.

The company plans to shortly introduce eight “premium” pricing tiers, ranging from $200 a year to $10,000 a year.

The first to launch, on July 8, will be its “brand protection tier”, which will carry a $498 registry fee.

Famous Four told its registrars that the tier “will provide an additional deterrent to cyber-squatters for well-known brands ensuring that domain names in this tier will not be eligible for price promotions”.

The gTLDs .date, .faith and .review will be first to use the tiered pricing structure.

It’s not entirely clear what brands will be a part of the $498 tier, or how the registry has compiled its list, but registrars have been given the ability to ask for their clients’ trademarks to be included.

I asked Famous Four for clarification a few days ago but have not yet had a response.

While other registries, such as Donuts, used tiered pricing for GA domains, I’m only aware of one other that puts premium prices on brands: .sucks.

Vox Populi has a trademark-heavy list of .sucks domains it calls Market Premium — formerly Sunrise Premium — that carry a $1,999-a-year registry fee.

Unlike Vox Pop, Famous Four does not appear to be planning a subsidy that would make brand-match domains available at much cheaper prices to third parties.

Famous Four’s gTLDs have seen huge growth in the last month or two, largely because it’s been selling domains at a loss.

.science, for example, has over 300,000 registrations — making it the third-largest new gTLD — because Famous Four’s registry fee has been discounted to just $0.25 from May to July.

The same discount applies to .party (over 195,000 names in its zone) and .webcam (over 60,000).

Those three gTLDs account for exactly half of the over 22,000 spam attacks that used new gTLD domains in March and April, according to Architelos’ latest abuse report.

With names available at such cheap prices, it would not be surprising if cybersquatters are abusing these gTLDs as much as the spammers.

Will intellectual property owners believe a $498+ reg fee is a useful deterrent to cybersquatting?

Or will they look upon this move as “predatory”, as they did with .sucks?

Donuts makes private deal with wine-makers

Donuts inked a private side-deal with wine-making regions in order to launch the .wine and .vin new gTLDs

The company signed both Registry Agreements with ICANN late last week, after the wine regions and the European Union stopped complaining.

The EU and regions had filed Cooperative Engagement Process objections with ICANN, saying that Donuts should be forced to protect “geographic indicators” such as Napa Valley and Champagne.

CEPs are often precursors to Independent Review Process complaints, but both were dropped after Donuts came to a private deal.

“The CEP filed by the Wine Regions was withdrawn because we came to a satisfactory private arrangement with the Registry concerned, Donuts,” David Taylor of Hogan Lovells, who represented the wine-making regions, told DI.

Details of the deal have not been disclosed, but Donuts does not appear to have committed to anything that could create compliance problems with ICANN in future.

“It has been a successful negotiation between private parties that avoids policy precedents,” Taylor said. “There are no special changes to these registry agreements (e.g., no new PICs)”

PICs are Public Interest Commitments, enforceable addenda to Registry Agreements that oblige the registry to adhere to extra rules.

So are GIs protected in .wine or not? For now, Taylor won’t say.

“My view is that this is not a victory for either side of the GI debate,” he said. “This is a victory for the wine community (consumers and producers) and ultimately the new gTLD program.”

New DNA social media site highlights “in the wild” domains

Kevin Murphy, June 18, 2015, Domain Services

The Domain Name Association has launched a new web site to show off domains, primarily new gTLD names, that have been spotted “in the wild”.

InTheWild.domains points to a Tumblr blog where members and others can share, for example, photos of billboards or promotional videos that prominently feature new domains.

“Tumblr offers the DNA a very efficient and flexible platform that will help the DNA social media team and you find and post more domains, rather on non-productive management tasks,” the DNA told members.

The site currently has a few dozen posts, such as a WePark.nyc billboard and a VSquared.rocks red carpet video.

Most listed domains are in 2012-round new gTLDs, but there’s a .info, a .us and a .co in there too. I don’t see any .com names.

The submission process appears to be open to everyone, but submissions are moderated by the DNA’s social media people.

ICANN ponders rejecting all closed generics

ICANN is thinking about rejecting all the remaining “closed generic” new gTLD applications from the current round.

According to minutes of a June 5 New gTLD Program Committee meeting published last night, ICANN is considering two options.

First, it could “prohibit exclusive generic TLDs in this round of the New gTLD Program and consult with the GNSO about developing consensus policy for future rounds”.

Or, it could initiate a “community process… to develop criteria to be used to evaluate whether an exclusive generic applicant’s proposed exclusive registry access serves a public interest goal.”

The NGPC has not yet reached a decision.

The rejection option would be fastest and easiest, but risks the wrath of companies that applied for closed generics — which were always envisaged when the new gTLD rules were being developed — in good faith.

Alternatively, developing a process to measure the applications against the “public interest” would be very time-consuming, possibly not even feasible, and would add even more delay to competing applicants.

This is one of the longest-delayed responses to the Governmental Advisory Committee’s April 2013 Beijing communique, which said “exclusive registry access should serve a public interest goal.”.

Closed generics, which ICANN now calls “exclusive access” gTLDs, are dictionary words that the applicant proposes to keep for itself, allowing no third parties to register names.

There are currently only six new gTLD applications that are stubbornly sticking to their original closed generic position.

Applicants for another 175 gTLDs have either changed their applications to allow third-party registrants or denied that they ever even planned to give themselves exclusive access.

Of the six hold-outs, three are delaying their respective contention sets while ICANN endlessly mulls the problem.

Here’s a table showing the affected strings.

Lifestyle Domain Holdings, Inc. .foodContested by Donuts and Ecyber Solutions.
Booking.com B.V..hotelsUncontested.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. .groceryWas contested by Safeway, now uncontested.
Hughes Satellite Systems Corporation.dvrUncontested.
Dish DBS Corporation.dataContested by M+M and Donuts.
Dish DBS Corporation.phoneContested by Donuts.

The applicants for the closed generics have each submitted responses explaining why they believe their proposals serve the public interest. They’re largely corporate legalese bibble.

.berlin zone drops off a cliff

The number of domains in the .berlin zone file appears to have stabilized after falling off a cliff late last week.

The new gTLD, which was an early leader in the space, peaked at 151,295 names on June 10.

It was down by 68,841 to 82,481 domains on June 12 and has been relatively flat, down by just a dozen or so domains per day, ever since.

A possible explanation for the decrease is the expiration of domains that were given away for free a year ago, but the dates don’t quite tally.

On June 16 2014, the zone file rocketed by over 67,000 names, most of which were registered via InternetX.

The promotion was yanked just a few days later, with the dotBerlin registry citing unexpectedly high demand.

One of dotBerlin’s registration policies requires .berlin names to be “put to use” within 12 months of registration, in such a way that demonstrates the nexus with the Berlin community.

Given that most of the free domains were registered by a handful of speculators, it seems unlikely that there’s been a whole lot of development of those names.