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New .jobs contract based on new gTLD agreement

Kevin Murphy, December 10, 2014, Domain Registries

ICANN and Employ Media are set to sign a new contract for operation of the .jobs registry which is based heavily on the Registry Agreement signed by all new gTLD registries.

.jobs was delegated in 2005 and its first 10-year RA is due for renewal in May 2015.

Because Employ Media, like all gTLD registries, has a presumption of renewal clause in its contract, ICANN has published the proposed new version of its RA for public comment.

It’s basically the new gTLD RA, albeit substantially modified to reflect the fact that .jobs is a “Sponsored TLD” — slightly different to a “Community” TLD under the current rules — and because .jobs has been around for nine years already.

That means it won’t have to sign a contract forcing it to run Sunrise or Trademark Claims periods, for example. It won’t have to come up with a Continued Operations Instrument — a financial arrangement to cover operating costs should the company go under — either.

Its commitments to its sponsor community remain, however.

ICANN said it conducted a compliance audit on Employ Media before agreeing to the renewal.

Employ Media remains the only gTLD registry to have been hit by a formal breach notice by ICANN Compliance. In 2011, it threatened to terminate its contract over a controversial proposal to all job aggregation sites to run on .jobs domains.

The registry filed an Independent Review Process complaint to challenge the ruling and ICANN eventually backed down in 2012.

The fight came about as a result of complaints from the .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition, a group of jobs sites including Monster.com.

Dot-brands get another year to sign ICANN contract

ICANN has offered dot-brand gTLD applicants the ability to delay the signing of their Registry Agreements until July 29, 2015, nine months later than under the former process.

The extension was offered by ICANN after talks with the Brand Registry Group, whose members felt pressured by the old deadline.

All new gTLD applicants had previously been told they had nine months to sign the contract from the date they receive a so-called “Contracting Information Request” from ICANN.

For many applicants, those CIRs were sent out many months ago, leading to an October 29 deadline.

However, Specification 13 of the contract, which allows dot-brands to opt out of things like sunrise periods and equal treatment of registrars, was not finalized by ICANN until May 14 this year.

Only a minuscule number of dot-brands eligible to sign contracts — which is pretty much all of them — have so far opted to do so.

Bearing the Spec 13 delay in mind, ICANN is now offering would-be dot-brands the July 2015 deadline instead, as long as they show “good faith” by responding to their CIR by September 1.

What this means is that dot-brands might not be hitting the internet for another year.

For non-branded gTLD registries — some of whom hope the big brands’ adoption and marketing will help the visibility of new gTLDs in general — this may be disappointing.

IPO warns about premium loopholes in new gTLD trademark protection

Kevin Murphy, December 4, 2013, Domain Policy

It seems like it’s been an age since we last heard the intellectual property lobby pushing for stronger rights protection mechanisms in new gTLDs, but they’re back just in time for the first launches.

The Intellectual Property Owners Association has written to ICANN this week to warn about loopholes in the standard new gTLD Registry Agreement related to premium name reservations that the IPO said “will adversely affect trademark rights holders”.

The letter (pdf) makes reference to two specific parts of the contract.

Specification 5 enables registries to reserve up to 100 names “necessary for the operation or promotion of the TLD” in section 3.2 and an unlimited number of names in section 3.3.

Section 3.3 is vague enough that I’m aware of new gTLD applicants that still don’t know whether it allows them to reserve an unlimited number of “premium” names or not.

However, most new gTLD registries I’ve talked to appear to be convinced that it does. DotKiwi’s recently announced premium plan seems to be taking advantage of 3.3.

The IPO is worried that massive lists of premium names will wind up containing lots of strings matching trademarks, which will prevent mark holders from defensively registering during Sunrise.

Worse, the IPO said it could lead to registries milking trademark owners for huge fees to register their “premium” marks. It said:

such reservations would invite the abuse of protected marks. For instance, Registry Operators may reserve the marks of protected brands to leverage premium sales. Further, Registry Operators may use this ability to release names to market competitors of the brand owners.

The counter argument, of course, is that owners of spurious trademarks on generic terms could game Sunrise periods to get their hands of potentially valuable domain names (cf. the .eu sunrise)

The IPO wants ICANN to expand the Trademark Clearinghouse to send Trademark Claims notices to new gTLD registries when they reserve a name matching a listed trademark.

It also wants a new dispute procedure that mark owners could use to get names released from reserved status. It would be like UDRP, but modified to allow for registries to reserve dictionary words related to their gTLD strings, the IPO said.

If my sense of the mood of ICANN’s leadership during last month’s Buenos Aires meeting is anything to go by, I can’t see these last-minute requests for changes to RPMs getting much traction, but you never know.

On day one, Donuts in breach of new gTLD contract

Kevin Murphy, October 24, 2013, Domain Registries

Ooops! Donuts accidentally broke the terms of its first new gTLD Registry Agreement last night, just hours after its first string, .游戏, was delegated to the DNS root.

If you’ve been following the name collisions debate closely, you’ll recall that all new gTLD registries are banned from activating any second-level domains for 120 days after they sign their contracts:

Registry Operator shall not activate any names in the DNS zone for the Registry TLD (except for “NIC”) until at least 120 calendar days after the effective date of this agreement.

For the first four gTLDs to go live, that clock doesn’t stop ticking until November 12.

And yet, last night, Donuts activated donuts.游戏, apparently in violation of its new contractual obligations with ICANN.

The name was live and resolving for at least an hour. Donuts pulled it after we asked a company executive whether it might be a breach of contract.

I don’t think it’s a big deal, and I doubt ICANN needs to take any action.

Chalk it down to the understandable ebullience that naturally accompanies finally getting delegated to the root after such a long and painful evaluation process.

The 120-day rule was also a late amendment to Specification 6 of the RA, added by ICANN just seven days before .游戏 was delegated and over three months after Donuts signed the original contract.

It’s designed to address the potential for collisions between second-level domains in new gTLDs and names used on internal networks that already have working SSL certificates.

The no-activation window was chosen to match the 120-day period that the CA/Browser Forum gives its certificate authority members to revoke clashing certificates.

It seems unlikely donuts.游戏 will have caused any security issues during the brief period it was alive.

Samsung signs the first dot-brand gTLD contract

Kevin Murphy, September 28, 2013, Domain Registries

Samsung has become the first company to sign a Registry Agreement for a dot-brand gTLD.

As of yesterday, the electronics giant is now officially contracted with ICANN to run .삼성, its name in its native Korean.

It’s surprising that Samsung would be the first; while its application has priority number 18, its application also makes it pretty obvious it’s a primarily defensive move, reading:

The new gTLD proposed by SAMSUNG SDS has purpose in protecting online brand of SAMSUNG Group including SAMSUNG by defending abusive registration by third parties and further raising global awareness by domain usage utilizing company name.

The contract has not yet been published in full — expect that over the next few days — so it’s not yet clear whether Samsung has managed to negotiate any special dot-brand-specific amendments.

The base Registry Agreement contains lots of obligations, such as Sunrise periods, that really aren’t applicable to single-registrant spaces.

I understand the new Brand Registry Group is currently trying to negotiate a baseline set of dot-brand amendments with ICANN, so it’s possible that Samsung has jumped the gun by signing so soon.

But it could also mean that .삼성 will be the first-ever dot-brand TLD to go live on the internet, which is likely to benefit from substantial media coverage compared to subsequent delegations.

ICANN has signed 48 new gTLD contracts since July, way behind its originally target of 40 per week.

.삼성 will have its back-end registry managed by .kr ccTLD operator KISA.