Dot London Domains’ .london had just shy of 35,000 domains in its zone file this morning, after its first partial day of general availability.
That’s an addition of 12,421 domains over yesterday’s number, making .london the 11th most-registered new gTLD.
This makes .london — which in my opinion has had one of the best launch marketing campaigns we’ve seen this year — the most-successful gTLD, in volume terms, after its first GA day.
It has beaten the 33,012 names that .在线 (“.online” in Chinese) and the 31,645 names that .berlin had in their zone files at the end of their respective GA days.
.london domains are not particularly cheap, either. Minds + Machines sells at £30 ($48) a year and Go Daddy (which lists .london at the top of its UK home page today) sells at $59.99.
UK-based Domainmonster, part of Host Europe Group, performed well with a £34.99 ($56) annual fee.
There were 22,547 .london names claimed during the “London Priority Period”, a combined sunrise/landrush phase that gave first dibs on names to trademark owners followed by London residents.
The registry has not broken down the mix between sunrise and landrush, but I believe based on the paltry sunrise performance of every other new gTLD to date that the vast majority were landrush names.
The full priority period queue has not yet been processed — domains with more than one applicant are currently in auction.
Back-end provider Minds + Machines, recently told the markets that it expects about a quarter of landrush/sunrise names to go to auction, so we could be looking at something like 7,500 applications (as opposed to domains) currently in the auction queue.
What this may mean is that .london had roughly 30,000 applications during its priority period, about 20,000 less than it had predicted back in July.
Dot London Domains is closely affiliated with London & Partners, the PR machine for the Mayor of London, so it had resources and access to throw at an effective marketing campaign.
The concurrent sunrise periods of .moscow and .москва have unsurprisingly seen the Latin-script new gTLD trounce the Cyrillic version.
There were 154 registrations in .moscow, according to FAITID, the registry for both gTLDs, compared to just seven in .москва.
They’re both pretty low numbers, but they’re quite typical for new gTLDs. The .moscow number is actually a little above average.
And two of the IDN registrations appear to be for generic terms — мы.москва (“we.moscow”) and скачать.москва (“download.moscow”) — masquerading as trademarks, which happens a lot in new gTLDs.
There are many reasons why the Latin script beat the Cyrillic.
Sergey Gorbunov, head of international relations at FAITID, said that Russian holders of Cyrillic-script trademarks may not be very familiar with the Trademark Clearinghouse.
There are only 127 Cyrillic strings protected in the TMCH right now, he said. Non-Russian brands are also less likely to have their names protected in Cyrillic, he said.
Apple registered 11 Latin-script domains in the sunrise, according to Gorbunov, making it the biggest single registrant.
In what is possibly the longest launch phase of any new gTLD to date, there now follow two “Limited Registration Periods” for Russia and Moscow-based organizations, which end August 25.
A landrush period will kick off September 24 and FAITID expects to go to general availability on December 1.
Running a premium domain name auction before you’ve finished your new gTLD sunrise period is Officially Not Cool, according to ICANN’s compliance department.
People who won premium new gTLD domains in auctions that took place before sunrise periods now face the possibility of losing their names to trademark owners.
.CLUB Domains, and probably XYZ.com, operators of .club and .xyz, two of the highest-volume new gTLDs to launch so far, appear to be affected by the ICANN decision.
ICANN told .CLUB that its “winter auction“, which took place in late February, may have violated the rules about allocating or “earmarking” domains to registrants before sunrise takes place.
Meanwhile, NameJet has cancelled the auction for deals.xyz, which “sold” for $8,100 late last year, suggesting that .xyz’s pre-sunrise auction is also considered ultra vires.
ICANN told .CLUB that its auction sales “constitute earmarking” in violation of the rule stating that registries “must not allow a domain name to be allocated or registered prior to the Sunrise period”.
.CLUB had told its auction winners that a sunrise period registration would prevent them from getting the domain they wanted and that they would be refunded if a sunrise registrant emerged.
But ICANN evidently told the registry:
Irrespective of whether “[a]llocation was expressly conditioned upon any Sunrise claim,” or whether any Sunrise claim was made, the pre-selection, pre-registration or pre-designation to third parties, in this case via .Club Domains’ “winter auction,” constitutes improper allocation.
I kinda thought this would happen.
Back in November, when XYZ.com ran its first .xyz auction — about six months before its sunrise even started — CEO Daniel Negari told us he believed it was “comfortably within the rules“.
We said the auction “seems to be operating at the edge of what is permissible under the new gTLD program’s rights protection mechanisms, which state that no domains may be allocated prior to Sunrise.”
I’ve not yet been able to definitively confirm that .xyz is affected by this ICANN decision, but .club definitely is.
.CLUB Domains told its auction winners today that the names they won are now subject to a 60-day period during which they could be obtained by trademark owners.
If no trademark owner claims the name, .CLUB said it will give the auction winner a 10% rebate on their purchase price.
The email states:
We are placing the domain on hold for 60 days, during which time a Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) holder will have the opportunity to purchase the domain at Sunrise rates. Although, the domain is not currently in the TMCH, if a trademark holder should file in the TMCH over the next 60 days, the domain will be offered to that registrant. However, if the name is not claimed by filing in the TMCH over the next 60 days, your transaction will move forward as planned.
Although we disagree with ICANN compliance’s position on this matter, the actions we are taking are necessary to ensure that we are not offside with ICANN compliance in any way. We understand that you have been caught in the middle of this issue due to no fault of your own. Given these circumstances, we are offering you two options:
1) Should you decide to complete this transaction, we will issue you a payment of 10% of the purchase price after the transaction closes in 60 days, assuming the name is not registered by a TMCH mark holder because of the delay.
2) At any time during the 60 day period you have the option to rescind the auction bid and not purchasing the domain.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the last six months of new gTLDs, it’s that predictions about massive levels of defensive registrations were way off the mark.
New gTLDs are not seeing anywhere near the same numbers of sales during sunrise periods as their predecessors.
I have managed to collate some data that I think gives a pretty accurate picture of how many sunrise registrations are being made and therefore how much new gTLDs are costing trademark owners.
About 128 gTLDs have finished their sunrise periods to date, and I have the sunrise sales figures for 101 of them. All of these numbers were provided by the respective registry operator.
The biggest sunrise, per these numbers, was for .clothing, which had 675 registrations. That’s 5.97% of the 11,301 overall names in the .clothing zone file today, over three months after launch.
At the other end of the scale is شبكة. (“.shabaka” or “.web” in Arabic), which sold just five names during its sunrise, the first of the program, which was restricted to Arabic trademarks.
The total number of sunrise sales across across all 101 gTLDs is 14,567, making for an average of 144.2 domains per new gTLD sunrise.
Sunrise currently accounts for 1.87% of all names in these 101 gTLDs, but that’s an artificially high number because some of the gTLDs I have sunrise numbers for are not yet in general availability.
But compare the real numbers to .co, which sold over 11,000 names at sunrise when it launched in summer 2010, or .xxx, which took 80,000 sunrise applications in late 2011.
Trademark owners are not defensively registering with anywhere near the same fervor as they once did.
If that 144.2 average names holds true for all 128 gTLDs that have completed sunrise, we can approximate that 18,461 names have been sold during sunrise periods to date.
I should point out that I’m assuming in these calculations that all sunrise registrations are “defensive” and that brand owners are not defensively registering during general availability.
Neither of those assumptions will be fully true.
Not all sunrise sales are made to genuine brand owners, of course. Some number of generic dictionary domains have been registered by people who obtained trademarks just in order to get the matching domain.
And only a psychic could know whether a GA registration is “defensive” or not at this stage.
But let’s assume that every sunrise reg went to a genuine brand owner. How much have they had to pay for these names?
It’s difficult to calculate a precise dollar value because each registry has a different pricing scheme and sometimes the price of a name can vary even within a specific given TLD.
I looked to the prices listed at 101domain, which has pretty exhaustive coverage of new gTLDs, for a guide.
The average first-year cost for a sunrise registration in the 75 or so new gTLDs currently being sold to trademark owners at 101domain is a little shy of $165.
Assuming that’s a good guide for pricing in sunrise periods that have already closed, we can calculate that 18,461 names at $165 a pop equals $3,046,089 out of the pockets of trademark owners in the first year.
But the sunrise fees are not the only costs, of course. In order to participate in a sunrise you must first register your mark in the Trademark Clearinghouse.
There are 30,251 marks registered in the TMCH, according to the TMCH itself. At $150 a pop — the minimum you can pay for a TMCH registration — that’s $4,537,650 spent on defensive measures.
Add in the cost of the sunrise registrations and a generous $100,000 to cover the cost of the 50 Uniform Rapid Suspension cases that have been filed to date and the total cost to brand owners so far over the first 128 new gTLDs comes to $7,683,739.
Whether this is “a lot” or not probably depends on your perspective.
It’s certainly not the billions of dollars that were being predicted by some as recently as last year.
In September the Better Business Bureau and the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse speculated that 600 “open” new gTLDs could lead to $10 billion being spent on defensive registrations.
That statement was made in a press release calling for stronger cybersquatting legislation in the US.
But if 101 open gTLDs leads to $3,046,089 being spent, 600 such gTLDs should lead to a total cost of about $18 million, not including the fixed TMCH costs (which probably won’t grow very fast in future).
That’s not the same ballpark, not the same league, not even the same sport.
I-Registry’s .rich may have taken the ignominious title of Worst New gTLD Launch Yet, but the company says it’s not in any rush and is planning to start its marketing campaign in about a month.
According to zone files, .rich has 22 registered names, despite the fact that it’s been in general availability for a week. All 22, according to the registry, were registered during its sunrise period.
The price has certainly got a lot to do with that — the registry fee is $1,750 and you can find registrars selling for as much as $2,599 — but the non-existent marketing may have also played a part.
Visiting the I-Registry web site today won’t give you any idea where you can buy the names or any indication that they’re even available.
As I and others have pointed out, the .rich string is a hard sell. Andrew Allemann of Domain Name Wire, with his tongue only a little in his cheek, doesn’t reckon it passes “The Douche Test“.
But I-Registry’s Michael Hauck told DI that the company is planning to launch a revamped nic.rich site, possibly as early as next week, with an all-new “marketing site” to follow about a month later.
“It will communicate the right message around .RICH,” Hauck said of the nic.rich site. “Clients will understand much better what we intend .RICH to be. And of course you will find a list of supporting registrars there, which today amounts to over 40 registrars.”
The marketing site will offer to sell .rich names directly via an ICANN registrar, he said. Email, hosting, privacy and other stuff will be included in the price, he said. He added:
“We will be also offering an affiliate program with a very attractive PPS program for people who are not registrars or resellers to market this domain product and give them all the margin that usually a registrar has,” he said.
“So a guy who is running for example a millionaire’s dating website or is writing about exclusive products and services in his blog is able to work with us and to promote .RICH,” he said.
Given that the registry doesn’t seem to have sold a single domain during its first week of GA, I think it’s going to need as much marketing support as it can get.