The Arab Center for Dispute Resolution has gone live as the fifth approved provider of UDRP dispute resolution services.
The Jordan-based outfit, which says it has offices in “all Arab countries”, says it “is uniquely positioned to address domain name issues pertinent to the region, while maintaining an international, multicultural disposition to case settlement.”
The organization does not appear to be competing hard on price. A single-domain case will set trademark owners back a minimum of $1,500 ($1,000 to the panel, $500 to ACDR), which is the same as market leader WIPO.
It’s actually a little more expensive than WIPO — a five-domain case will cost $1,700 compared to WIPO’s $1,500.
Would-be cybersquatters have pre-registered new gTLD domains matching many famous brands, according to the Trademark Clearinghouse.
According to a bit of TMCH PR fluff coming out tomorrow, there are pre-registrations in .web for 40 out of the 50 most-valuable British brands.
I gather that the data came from 1&1, the most aggressive registrar in its pursuit of new gTLD leads, which has reported over three million pre-regs.
In what appears to be outreach to drum up additional trademark registrations, the TMCH said:
According to the Trademark Clearinghouse’s data, unknown entities have already pre-reserved their interest in registering the domain names of 80 per cent of the UK’s 50 most valuable under the .WEB domain name. Similarly, third parties have attempted to pre-order 78 per cent of the UK’s top 50 most valuable brands under the .ONLINE domain name, 72 per cent under .APP, 70 per cent under .SHOP and 68 per cent under .BLOG.
It doesn’t seem to be a problem peculiar to new gTLDs, however. The TMCH also said that 54% of these brands have holes in their defensive registration portfolio across existing TLDs such as .biz, .net and .co.
There were roughly 23,000 marks in the TMCH database as of January 21.
UPDATE: 1&1 has asked me to clarify that the company took no part in this research. TMCH says it obtained the numbers through searches on the 1&1 web site.
With new TLDs, comes cybersquatting. It’s inevitable. And it’s also true of the new gTLDs that hit general availability this week.
The question of what is or is not cybersquatting is best left to a judge or UDRP panel, of course, but I’ve already come across plenty of newly registered domains that I do not believe would pass the UDRP test.
Sifting through select Whois records of domains that were registered in Donuts’ first seven gTLDs over the last few days, and without leaving the A’s, I’ve found the likes of: adidas.clothing, americanapparel.clothing, akamai.guru, americanexpress.guru. appleservice.guru and accenture.ventures.
Delving a little deeper into .clothing, I see the likes of kanyewest.clothing, ralphlauren.clothing, kardashiankollection.clothing, lauraashley.clothin, michaeljordan.clothing and more.
One Los Angeles clothing store appears to have registered several .clothing domains matching brands it does not own, possibly unaware that such behavior is frowned upon.
While there could be legitimate uses of the names I’ve highlighted here, possibly, they all appear to me to be registered to people unaffiliated with the referenced brands or celebrities.
I found more that are registered behind Whois privacy services, where it’s not possible to tell whether the domain belongs to the brand or not. Domains such as ibm.guru and ibm.ventures use Whois privacy, yet resolve to the IBM web site.
Cases of obvious UDRP losses seem to be few and far between, however. The vast majority of domains registered in these new gTLDs this week seem to be straightforward generic terms.
While I’m using the UDRP sniff test to highlight domains I feel may be cybersquatting, there’s a new process in town when it comes to disputes: the faster, cheaper Uniform Rapid Suspension policy.
URS has a higher burden of proof — “clear and convincing evidence” of bad faith registration and use — and it’s not yet clear how panelists will handle these cases.
There’s only been one URS case to date, that of facebok.pw, in which the domain was suspended following a complaint by Facebook.
In that case, Facebook was able to show bad faith by presenting the panelist with a list of other typo domains the respondent had registered.
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.
Uniregistry is to offer a second Sunrise period in its new gTLDs, going over and above what is required by ICANN, aimed at companies with trademarks that “span the dot”.
Say you run a tattoo parlor and have a trademark on “Joe’s Tattoo”. The ICANN-mandated Sunrise would only allow you to register joestattoo.tattoo, but Uniregistry will allow you to buy joes.tattoo as well.
It would also allow “plurals and conjugations”, so a company with a trademark on “Joe’s Tattoos” would presumably also be eligible for joes.tattoo, even though they’re not an exact match.
This Sunrise B plan appears to apply to all of Uniregistry’s forthcoming gTLDs and was approved by ICANN recently (pdf).
The additional service would be invitation-only, restricted to companies that have participated in the regular Sunrise period, which Uniregistry is calling Sunrise A.
For Sunrise A, Uniregistry plans to allow mark owners to register regular resolving domain names or purchase “blocking” registrations, where the domain resolves to a non-monetized Uniregistry placeholder.
Sunrise B participants would not be able to purchase blocking registrations; for “dot-spanning” trademarks the name must resolve.
Uniregistry also plans to implement an “anti-hijack” measure to help prevent — or at least add friction to — .eu-style gaming by domain speculators during its launch periods.
If you participate in either Sunrise period, you won’t be able to later transfer your name to a third party without providing the registry with proof that you’ve also transferred the corresponding trademark registration.