Just four weeks after the first new gTLDs went into general availability, the Trademark Clearinghouse has already sent out over 17,500 Trademark Claims notices to trademark owners.
A Claims notice is a warning that is generated whenever somebody registers a domain name that exactly matches a trademark listed in the TMCH’s database.
The 17,500 number refers to post-registration notices sent to trademark owners, not pre-registration warnings delivered to would-be registrants.
Considering that there are somewhere in the region of 180,000 domain names in new gTLDs today, 17,500 represents a surprisingly high percentage of the market (high single figures).
Of course, not all of these will be due to cybersquatting attempts.
There are plenty of marks in the TMCH that are acronyms or dictionary words, either because they match a genuine brand or because somebody obtained trademarks on generic terms in order to game sunrise periods.
I’d count those as false positives, personally, but it’s impossible to know without access to TMCH data how many of the 17,500 alerts delivered to date can be accounted for in that way.
There are 26,802 marks in the TMCH, according to the company.
Who said shorter domains are more popular?
Donuts’ new .photography and .camera gTLDs, which both come out of their Early Access Period premium pricing phases this week, have seen .photography get more than twice as many registrations so far.
During their EAP and sunrise periods, where retail prices can range from $150 to $13,000, .camera has racked up 146 names to .photography’s 383.
There’s a difference of meaning here of course, which is reflected in the types of domains being registered; .camera names tend to be hardware-related, while .photography is heavy with personal names.
Donuts’ strategy of picking strings that already feature heavily at the end of the second level of .com seems to be reflecting the reality of registration patterns in new gTLDs too.
The photography-related gTLD space is going to an interesting one to watch.
We’re also waiting for the launch of .photo and .photos (.photos in two weeks, .photo in April), which will crowd the space further. These two are also likely to be the first plural/singular competitors.
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.
Trademark attorneys and brand management executives take note: January 21 will see the launch of the first first-come, first-served sunrise period we’ve seen in a new TLD in a long time.
FCFS means that domain names will be allocated to participants immediately, rather than at the end of the sunrise period.
For those responsible for acquiring domain names for mark owners — many of whom are accustomed to waiting to the last minute before submitting sunrise applications — this is a change of pace.
You snooze, you lose.
To date only Regiodot’s German geographic gTLD, .ruhr, has officially confirmed (pdf) that it intends to use a FCFS policy during its mandatory sunrise period.
That’s due to kick off on January 21.
The precise time that the sunrise will begin — important when you’re looking at a FCFS policy — does not appear to have been published yet.
UPDATE: the time has been published (see comments below this post) and it’s 1000 UTC.
Under ICANN rules, to use FCFS registries need a “Start Date” sunrise, which runs for 30 days but requires a 30-day notice period before it begins. Regiodot told ICANN about its sunrise dates December 18.
The alternative “End Date” sunrises run for 60 days, have no notice period, and domains are only allocated to mark owners — usually using auctions to settle contention — after the 60 days are over.
Other than .ruhr, only PeopleBrowsr’s .ceo has said it wants to run a Start Date sunrise. However, PeopleBrowsr will not run its sunrise on a FCFS basis, preferring the end-date allocation/auction method instead.
CentralNic is going to run .co.com after all, kinda.
The two companies have signed a deal whereby CentralNic will manage the back-end registry for the forthcoming subdomain service, which domain owner Paul Goldstone launched a few months ago.
CentralNic, before it became the named back-end for 60 new gTLD applications, was known only for offering subdomains under us.com, uk.com and many other second-level names.
Announcing the deal today, .co.com also said that it plans to hold a sunrise period in February, to be followed by a first-come first-served landrush.
It’s already offering “premium” keyword domains privately to interested parties.