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.
TLD Registry plans to time its Chinese new gTLD launch dates to coincide with days considered lucky in Chinese astrology.
The Sunrise period for .在线 (“.online”) and .中文网 (“.chinesewebsite”) will start January 17 and end March 17.
According to the registry:
Both the start and end days of Sunrise fall on highly auspicious days for “starting new businesses” in the ancient Chinese almanac. The Chinese almanac was created during the Han Dynasty around 200BC, and continues to be an important guide to the lives and businesses of more than a billion Chinese people.
A landrush period will follow starting March 20, “an auspicious day for ‘breaking ground’”, and ending April 24.
TLD Registry will also run a live/online auction for “the most valuable and sought-after” names in Macau on March 21.
General availability is slated for April 28, “a highly auspicious date for ‘starting new businesses’ and ‘grand openings’”
It’s cute marketing, and no mistake.
The Chinese almanac, like all astrology, is of course utter nonsense.
DotKiwi has put NZD 8.5 milion ($7 million) of “premium” domain names on the market in advance of the delegation of .kiwi, which it expects to happen this week.
There are 4,668 names on sale right now, ranging in price from NZD 501.50 ($410) to NZD 124,626.71 ($102,000).
The highest price belongs to hotels.kiwi.
The average asking price is NZD 1,832.39 ($1,500).
The registry said:
All premium names have been valued in collaboration with third parties that specialise in valuing domain names around the globe. The value of a .kiwi premium name is determined using historical sales data, search engine popularity and traffic.
There are 32 domains priced at over $10,000. These are the top 10 highest-priced names:
Unlike other new gTLD registries that have introduced tiered renewal pricing for premium names, DotKiwi plans to charge a standard NZD 40 ($33) annual fee for premiums.
DotKiwi tells us that the names have all been reserved, so they’re ineligible for the mandatory Sunrise period (expected to start later this month).
But the names won’t actually be activated until after Sunrise is over. Then, they’ll still be subject to the Trademark Claims service, which alerts trademark owners when their mark has been registered.
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.
.CLUB Domains has selected RightOfTheDot to manage its premium and founders program domains strategy.
The company named “a.club, 888.club, chess.club, poker.club, insurance.club, golf.club country.club, car.club” as examples of “category killer” names that RightOfTheDot will try to find homes for.
.CLUB signed its Registry Agreement with ICANN late last week and plans to go to Sunrise in January.
It’s among the top 30 most popular new gTLDs being pre-registered at 1&1 right now, and recently said it’s hoping to have five million domains under management within five years, an ambitious target.
RightOfTheDot is the new gTLD consultancy founded by domainers Mike Berkens and Monte Cahn.