Top Level Design’s .ink has become the sixth new gTLD in the Latin alphabet to be approved for sale in China.
It was one of four new gTLDs given regulatory approval to begin operating properly in the country late last week. The others were all in Chinese script.
From Finnish-founded TLD Registry, .中文网 (“Chinese web site”) and .在线 (“Chinese online”) gained approval.
From local outfit Guangzhou Yuwei Information Technology Co, .集团 (“group”) and .我爱你 (“I love you”) were given the nod.
Under China’s Draconian domain name regulations, only domains registered via local registries and registrars may be used.
Registries from outside the country have had to set up a local corporate presence and agree to China’s censorship policies in order to be compliant.
Forget .sucks — several less controversial new gTLD registries have come under fire from the likes of Google, Facebook and Adobe for charging sunrise fees as high as $17,000 for domains matching famous trademarks.
According to figures supplied to DI by ICANN’s Business Constituency, the domain instagram.love carries a $17,610 “Premium Name Fee” during the current sunrise period.
Instagram is of course the photo sharing service belonging to Facebook, and to the best of my knowledge not a dictionary word.
The domain facebook.love has a $8,930 fee, these figures show, while google.love costs $6,610, both in addition to sunrise fees of $350 and annual fees of $60.
The regular sunrise fee for .love comes in at $265 at some registrars.
The new gTLDs .design, .video, .wang, .wein, .rich and .top also seem to carry very high fees for brands such as Facebook, according to the BC’s numbers.
Google recently filed a public comment with ICANN which warned:
some registry operators are taking advantage of rights owners during Sunrise by charging exorbitant and extortionate Sunrise registration fees. Although such pricing policies are not strictly within the ICANN compliance mandate, they contravene the spirit of the RPMs [rights protection mechanisms], damage ICANN’s reputation, harm consumers in contravention of ICANN’s mandate to promote the public interest, and create disincentives for rights owners to take advantage of the Sunrise period
Similar comments were sent by the Intellectual Property Constituency, BC, and others.
The issue of registries charging super-high “premium” fees for trademarked names has been on the radar of the BC and the IPC since at least 2013.
It seems that in at least some cases, trademark owners are being hit with the higher fees because their marks are dictionary words that the registry has identified as premium due to their regular meaning.
For example, adobe.design is on the list of names provided by the BC, carrying a $1,175 registration fee.
But Andrew Merriam, director of business development at .design registry Top Level Design, denied that the software company is being targeted. Instead, he said “adobe” refers to the material used in architecture — its dictionary meaning.
He said: “Stucco.design, concrete.design, wood.design, granite.design (and many other materials and building styles) are all on the premium list, at varying prices. In fact, adobe.design is priced on the lower end of all these materials.”
Merriam said the registry’s premium fee for adobe.design is actually $250 and speculated that $1,175 could be the price quoted by Adobe’s brand protection registrar post-markup. It was $349 at Go Daddy, he said.
In other cases, trademarks may have found their way on to premium lists due to a lack of manual vetting by the registry, rather than nefarious targeting.
In the case of instagram.love, Evatt Merchant of .love registry Merchant Law Group told DI that Facebook can buy the name for the normal sunrise fee if it wants.
He told DI that trademark owners should contact the registry if they believe their marks have been wrongly given premium prices. He said:
While it is possible that some brand terms that are frequently googled have ended up on the premium list, valued based on their Google search frequency, there is a simple solution. During the sunrise period, brands seeking non-dictionary trademarked domain names can contact the registry so that a review of individual sunrise pricing can occur. As has already occurred, such requests will often result in the .LOVE TLD voluntarily offering to reduce their sunrise application cost to the base sunrise price and that would certainly be the case for Instagram.
ICANN’s does not regulate pricing in new gTLDs, but nevertheless the IPC and BC and their members have asked ICANN to include premium pricing of trademarked names in its upcoming review of rights protection mechanisms.
A new company run by ICANNWiki founder Raymond King and business partner Peter Brual has applied to ICANN for 10 new generic top level domains.
Top Level Design has applied for: .blog, .llc, .group, .wiki, .gay, .art, .style, .design, .ink, and .photography.
The company is entering contention sets on most of those, but I believe it’s the first .wiki bid announced to date.
It’s also the only portfolio player so far to announce that it’s using CentralNIC, best known for pseudo-gTLDs such as uk.com, as its back-end registry provider.
The company said the venture “will not interfere with the presentation or neutrality of ICANNWiki.com”.