Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

All eyes on Donuts as first new gTLD renewal figures roll in

Kevin Murphy, March 23, 2015, Domain Registries

Donuts is about to give the world the clearest picture yet of the ongoing demand for new gTLD domain names.

The company has taken the unprecedented decision to disclose its renewal figures on a pretty much live basis.

COO Richard Tindal has been blogging renewal stats for .bike, .clothing, .guru, .ventures, .holdings, .plumbing and .singles for the last few days.

Those were the first seven of its gTLDs to hit general availability.

To Saturday, the renewal status of 6,352 names in these gTLDs was known and the renewal rate was 85.3%.

However, that rate is boosted by the relatively high proportion of the names that were registered during sunrise periods.

Donuts said that “two thirds” of the 6,352 reported domains were registered after sunrise.

That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, given that Donuts has previously put the total number of sunrise regs across the seven TLDs at just 1,404, which would work out at about 22%, not 33%.

On Friday, the company had said that the status of 4,534 names was known and the renewal rate was 91.6%.

If you deduct the Friday numbers from the Saturday numbers, you get to 1,265 renewals and 553 drops, a renewal rate of almost 69.6% for that particular day.

That number, which is a few percentage points off what a gTLD such as .com regularly reports, could of course fluctuate.

The full-year renewal rate, which would factor out much of the domainer activity, of course won’t be known for another year.

Donuts said it expects its renewal rate to drop to the mid-70s in its next daily report, expected today, which will cover an additional 22,910 domains.

The company’s decision to blog its numbers comes a day or two after we reported that ICANN is only budgeting for renewals of 50%.

The 14.6% of names not renewed works out to about 933 domains.

“We believe most of those names will be re-registered by another party within the next 35 days,” Tindal wrote.

As they were all registered in the early days of GA, one might expect them to be of a reasonably high quality.

While GA began at the end of January 2014, renewal rates are not known until the Auto-Renew Grace Period, which can be as long as 45 days, has expired.

First Donuts new gTLD sunrise periods looking tiny

Kevin Murphy, January 31, 2014, Domain Registries

It’s possible that fewer than 1,200 domain names were registered in Donuts’ first seven new gTLD sunrise periods, judging by the latest zone file data.

According to Donuts zone files dated January 31, just 1,164 proper domain names currently exist in .clothing, .bike, .guru, .ventures, .holdings, .singles and .plumbing.

By TLD, the names break down like this:

.clothing — 560
.holdings — 166
.bike — 146
.ventures — 125
.guru — 117
.singles — 50
.plumbing — 44.

As far as I can tell, based on sample Whois lookups, all the names were registered during the gTLDs’ respective sunrise periods, not during the currently ongoing Early Access Program.

On the face of it, these look like very small sunrise periods indeed (consider .co, which had 11,000 registrations during its sunrise in 2011) but there are number of important caveats here.

First, this data might be wrong. There have been hiccups and glitches in registry zone file provision for weeks, and this might be one of those cases. I don’t think it is, but you never know.

Second, the data might be still incomplete. Names were to be allocated after the conclusion of Donuts end-date sunrise, which was January 24. Not all of these domains might have been allocated yet.

Third, these numbers don’t reflect “dark” domains. These are domain names that are not configured with name servers and therefore won’t show up in DNS zone files.

Fourth, and most importantly, domain names that have been blocked by trademark holders under Donuts’ parallel Domain Protected Marks List service do not show up in zone files.

DPML is the Donuts offering to trademark owners that drastically reduces the cost of blocking a mark — potentially to just a few dollars per domain per year — across all of the company’s gTLDs.

We already know from a bit of Whois detective work by World Trademark Review that the likes of Microsoft, Apple, Wal-Mart and Samsung blocked their brands across all seven of these TLDs.

DPML is a bit of a bargain if you’re dead-set on blocking your brand in as many TLDs as possible, and it’s possible — maybe even likely — that the number of DPML subscriptions outstripped actual sunrise registrations.

It’s a given that most valuable brands are more interested in preventing misuse than they are in participating in the new gTLD expansions — Microsoft has no use for microsoft.plumbing.

Judging by the zone files, domains registered during sunrise are largely appropriate to the gTLD — .clothing and .bike are full of clothing and biking brands, with very little crossover between the two, for example.

But there are plenty of exceptions to that rule.

Some other stuff I noticed

I had a dig through the files and did a few Whois look-ups whenever I saw a name that piqued my interest.

There are no hugely obvious examples of widespread gaming to be seen but some arguably generic names did go to some domain industry folk who have inside knowledge of the new gTLD program.

Notably, several people associated with new gTLD applications managed by Beverly Hills IP lawyer Thomas Brackey of Freund & Brackey seem to have picked up nice-looking generic domains during sunrise.

Luxury Partners of .luxury managed to get its hands on domains including luxury.clothing, for example, while What Box?, which applied for six gTLDs, grabbed realestate.guru and wedding.guru.

That’s right, apparently there are trademarks on “real estate” and “wedding” somewhere out there, and domain registry What Box? was able to provide the required proof that it’s using them in commerce.

Brackey himself is listed as the registrant of cloud.guru and direct.[tld] across the seven gTLDs, among others.

George Minardos of .build applicant Minardos Group acquired build.guru during sunrise too.

I wonder if any sunrise names will be challenged under Donuts’ Sunrise Dispute Resolution Policy.

While .guru has only attracted 117 registered names so far, it does appear to be the one place notoriously domain-shy Apple decided to actually play, presumably due to the support “gurus” it employs in its stores — ipad.guru, mac.guru and iphone.guru all went to the company.

There’s a “religious” flavor to some of the registrations there too — scientology.guru and darshan.guru were both registered by their respective organizations.

Amazon appears to be the most sunrise-happy of all registrants, grabbing dozens of (probably) useless names including kindle.plumbing, prime.ventures and aws.bike.

Some porn publishers seem to have gone a bit crazy too, with names such as m4m.plumbing and cam4.clothing making an appearance.

I found a few domains on my trawl that appear to have empty Whois records — christ.holdings and ghost.bike to name two amusingly appropriate examples — which doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of sunrise.

So there are definitely some oddities out there, but so far it does not appear to me based on my first look that massive numbers of trademark owners have been held to ransom, nor does there appear to have been any wholesale gaming of the system.

First English new gTLD Sunrise periods start today

Kevin Murphy, November 26, 2013, Domain Registries

Donuts today kicks off the Sunrise periods for its first seven new gTLDs, the first English-language strings to start their priority registration periods for trademark owners.

The big question for mark holders today is whether to participate in Sunrise, or whether Donuts’ proprietary Domain Protected Marks List is the more cost-efficient way to go.

Sunrise starts today and runs until January 24 for .bike, .clothing, .guru, .holdings, .plumbing, .singles and .ventures. Donuts is planning seven more for December 3.

These are “end-date” Sunrises, meaning that no domains are awarded to participants until the full 60-day period is over. It’s not first-come, first-served, in other words.

Where more than one application for any given domain is received, Donuts will hold an auction after Sunrise closes to decide who gets to register the name.

The primary requirement for participating in Sunrise is, per ICANN’s base rules, that the trademark has been submitted to and validated by the Trademark Clearinghouse.

Donuts is not enforcing additional eligibility rules.

The company has not published its wholesale Sunrise application fee, but registrars have revealed some details.

Com Laude said that the Donuts “Sunrise Participation Fee” is $80, which will be the same across all of its gTLDs. Registrars seem to be marking this up by about 50%.

Tucows, for example, is asking its OpenSRS resellers for $120 per name, with an additional first-year reg fee ranging between $20 and $45 depending on gTLD.

Lexsynergy, which yesterday reported on Twitter a spike in TMCH submissions ahead of today’s launch, is charging between £91 ($147) and £99 ($160) for the application and first year combined.

The question for Trademark Owners is whether they should participate in the alternative Domain Protected Marks List or not.

The DPML is likely to be much cheaper for companies that want to protect a lot of marks across a lot of Donuts gTLDs.

A five-year DPML fee can be around $3,000, which works out to $3 per domain per year if Donuts winds up with 200 gTLDs in its portfolio.

Companies will not be able to actually use the domains blocked by the DPML, however, so it only makes sense for a wholly defensive blocking strategy.

In addition, DPML does not prevent a eligible mark owner from registering a DPML domain during Sunrise.

A policy Donuts calls “DPML Override” means that if somebody else owns a matching trademark, in any jurisdiction, they’ll be able to get “your” domain even if you’ve paid for a DPML entry.

I should point out that Donuts is simply following ICANN rules here. There are few ways for new gTLD registries to make names ineligible for Sunrise within their contracts.

Trademark owners are therefore going to have to decide whether it’s worth the risk of sticking to a strictly DPML strategy, or whether it might make more sense to do Sunrise on their most mission-critical marks.

DotShabaka Registry was the first new gTLD operator to go to Sunrise, with شبكة., though the lack of Arabic strings in the TMCH means it’s largely an exercise in contractual compliance.

1&1 prices first four Donuts gTLDs at $50-$80 a year

Kevin Murphy, November 14, 2013, Domain Registrars

The registrar 1&1 Internet has started selling pre-registrations in the first four Donuts new gTLDs for between $50 and $80 a year.

Three gTLDs — .singles, .bike and .clothing — carry a $49.99 price tag at the company’s US site. In the UK, they’re priced at £29.99. A fourth gTLD, .holdings, costs $79.99/£49.99.

Customers are only billed if 1&1 manages to grab the domain when the relevant gTLD launches.

The annual renewal fees appear to be the same as the pre-registration fees, but it’s not yet clear whether they’re the same as the standard reg fee when these gTLDs go to general availability next year.

As we’ve seen already via Go Daddy, some new gTLD registries are choosing to charge higher fees for pre-registered names, due to the more relaxed pricing regulations imposed by ICANN.

1&1 has been widely advertising new gTLDs on TV in the US and Europe for weeks — rumor has it the campaign’s budget is around $80 million — and has amassed four million non-binding pre-registrations to date.

Meanwhile, ICANN today warned internet users about the risks of pre-registering domains.

Nine Donuts gTLDs delegated

Kevin Murphy, November 6, 2013, Domain Registries

Donuts has had a batch of nine new gTLDs delegated to the DNS root today.

The nine strings are: .ventures, .camera, .clothing, .lighting, .singles, .voyage, .guru, .holdings and .equipment.

All belong to various Donuts subsidiaries that have signed Registry Agreements with ICANN over the last few months.

At this precise moment it does not seem that any have their basic “nic.” second-level domains active and resolving, but all are appearing in the DNS root zone.

Earlier today, Donuts announced the sunrise dates for the first seven gTLDs in its portfolio.

The company already has one gTLD delegated, the Chinese-script version of “.games”.

  • Page 1 of 2
  • 1
  • 2
  • >