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Full $185,000 refunds offered to risky new gTLD applicants

Kevin Murphy, February 8, 2018, Domain Policy

ICANN is to offer applicants for three new gTLDs identified as too risky to go live full refunds of their application fees.

Its board of directors acknowledged at its weekend retreat that it has no intention of delegating .corp, .home and .mail, and that each applicant should be able to get their entire $185,000 application fee back.

The applicants will have to withdraw their applications in order to get the refund.

Ordinarily, withdrawing an application would only qualify the applicants for a partial refund.

The ICANN board said in its resolution that it “does not intend to delegate the strings .CORP, .HOME, and .MAIL in the 2012 round of the New gTLD Program”.

It added that “the applicants were not aware before the application window that the strings .CORP, .HOME, and .MAIL would be identified as high-risk, and that the delegations of such high-risk strings would be deferred indefinitely.”

The three strings are considered risky because they already receive vast amounts of “name collision” traffic, largely from DNS queries that leak out from private networks.

There’s a concern that delegating any of them would create a big security risk in terms of confidential data leakage and stuff just generally breaking.

It’s been six years since the last new gTLD application window was open, and some applicants for the strings abandoned their bids years ago.

There are five remaining .corp applicants (and one withdrawal), five for .mail (two withdrawals) and ten for .home (one withdrawal).

The refunds will be taken from ICANN’s separate new gTLD program budget so presumably will not have an impact on its current operating budget woes.

The board noted that technically it did not have to give full refunds, under the terms of the Applicant Guidebook, but that it was doing so in the interest of “fairness”.

This may come as little comfort to applicants whose money has been tied up in limbo for the last six years.

Warren Buffett party firm beats Google to .fun

Kevin Murphy, April 20, 2015, Domain Registries

An 80-year-old seller of party supplies, owned by Warren Buffett, has won the rights to the new gTLD .fun, after the other two applicants withdrew.

Oriental Trading Company plans to operate the gTLD as a “restricted” space where only the company and its partners can register, according to its application.

Quite why this isn’t on hold as a “closed generic”, I don’t know.

The application states .fun will be:

an authoritative Internet space for OTC, its affiliates and partners where OTC can develop an unlimited number of domain names dedicated and relevant to “fun” and to provide Internet users with content, services and products they need, while being assured of brand authenticity.

The other two applicants were Google and Dot Strategy. Both applications have now been withdrawn.

OTC sells balloons, party hats, banners and such. It was acquired by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway in 2012 after filing for bankruptcy protection.

In other withdrawal news, games maker Konami today became the latest company to dump its plans for a dot-brand, in this case .konami.

In a first for new gTLDs, Aquitaine dumps geo bid

Kevin Murphy, February 5, 2015, Domain Registries

The authority for the French region of Aquitaine has become the first applicant for a geographic new gTLD to pull its application apparently of its own accord.

Région d’Aquitaine’s bid for .aquitaine was withdrawn today, despite the fact that the applicant was already in the contracting stage with ICANN.

A handful of other geographic gTLD applications have been withdrawn previously, but only due to disputes between the applicant and the governments of the regions they wanted to represent.

.aquitaine is the first would-be geographic gTLD to be pulled after passing through the evaluation stage of the program.

Aquitaine is one of France’s 27 formal regions, with a population of over three million.

Fatal timeout? A dozen dot-brands procrastinating to death

Kevin Murphy, January 7, 2015, Domain Registries

Over a dozen new gTLD applications have been iced because the applicants couldn’t or wouldn’t talk to ICANN about signing contracts before their deadlines.

Volvo and PricewaterhouseCoopers are among the 13 dot-brand applicants whose $185,000+ investments could vanish in a puff of smoke because they can’t bring themselves to sign on the dotted line, I’ve discovered.

The following gTLD applications, filed by 10 different companies, are no longer active because of contracting problems:

.select, .compare, .axis, .origins, .changiairport, .nissay, .lamer, .clinique, .pwc, .volvo, .amp, .招聘 (Chinese “.recruitment”), .wilmar

They’re all uncontested applications. They’re also all, with the exception of .招聘, envisaged having single-registrant policies (dot-brands, in other words).

All had their apps flagged by ICANN as “Will Not Proceed” in the new gTLD process late last year, having failed to sign or start negotiating their Registry Agreements in time.

Under program rules, applicants originally had nine months from the day they were invited to contract with ICANN in which to sign their RAs.

After protests from dot-brand applicants planning to sign up for so-called “Spec 13” code of conduct exemptions, ICANN last June gave such applicants an extension until July 2015, as long as they hit a September 1 deadline to respond to ICANN’s overtures.

Applicants that did not request an extension had an October 29 deadline to sign their RAs.

According to an ICANN spokesperson, a failure to hit such “interim milestones” disqualifies applicants from signing RAs.

It’s not entirely clear from the Applicant Guidebook how applicants can extricate themselves from this limbo state without withdrawing their applications, but ICANN assures us it is possible.

“Will not Proceed is not a final status,” the spokesperson cautioned. “But they are currently not eligible to sign the RA with ICANN. But if that status changes, we’ll update it accordingly on the site.”

Withdrawals would qualify the applicants for a 35% refund on their application fees, he confirmed.

.love won by class action lawyers

Kevin Murphy, December 8, 2014, Domain Registries

It appears that the contested new gTLD .love has been won by the law firm Merchant Law Group, after an auction.

Minds + Machines, Richemont, Google and Donuts have all officially withdrawn their competing applications. I gather that withdrawals from Uniregistry and Famous Four Media are on their way.

.love would be MLG’s first successful new gTLD application.

The would-be portfolio applicant applied for eight strings, all of which were contested by others. It has withdrawn bids for .news, .club and .law after auctions.

MLG is odd as new gTLD applicants go. It’s a Canadian law firm that offers services across many areas of law but seems to specialize in class action lawsuits.

According to its application, .love will be positioned in the same space as .wed and .wedding:

.LOVE’s target markets are broad enough to maintain a financially viable TLD and distinct enough that the .LOVE TLD will not become ‘just another .info’. A .LOVE TLD will provide a unique space on the Internet for information and services related to the idea of love, engagements, marriage, and family. It will allow anyone to register a domain name and post information about products and services related to the idea of love, an engagement, a marriage, or family.

It is anticipated to be an open, unrestricted gTLD running on a CentralNic back-end.