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Five interesting nuggets from the first batch of gTLD evaluations

Kevin Murphy, March 25, 2013, 07:43:13 (UTC), Domain Registries

ICANN gave many in the industry cause for celebration on Friday when it released its first batch of 27 new gTLD applications that have passed Initial Evaluation.
The plan is to release 30 per week, ramping up to 100 at some point in future, but three applications in the first 30 still have change requests or clarifying questions being processed.
Here are some interesting bits of information we’ve gleaned from the first batch.
Donuts has passed its background checks
Donuts has had the first of its new gTLD applications approved. This means that the evaluation team doing background screening found no reason to be fail the company due to its executives’ track records.
During the public comment period last year, Donuts’ opponents said the company should be barred from getting any new gTLDs because of its close ties to Demand Media, a company with a record of adverse UDRP decisions.
It was also claimed that a Donuts director was involved in cybersquatting the Olympic and Disney brands, but it turned out the director in question had left the company in late 2011.
But ICANN’s evaluation team appears to have given Donuts the all clear.
The Donuts application that has passed Initial Evaluation, for .商店 (shop/store), is one of 199 applications, each filed by unique corporate shells, that share a parent, Dozen Donuts LLC.
The balance of Donuts’ applying companies are owned by Covered TLD LLC, believed to be its joint venture with Demand Media. All 307 are signed up to use Demand Media’s registry back-end.
Seven IDN scripts passed IE
New gTLDs in seven internationalized domain name scripts — Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, Hindi, Korean, German, Cyrillic — have passed through Initial Evaluation.
Transliterations of .com/.net are apparently fine
Some of Verisign’s applications for transliterations of .com and .net in scripts such as Chinese and Hindi have passed IE, meaning the evaluators weren’t worried about possible clashes with their legacy equivalents.
There’s been some concern from some parts of the world that because the applied-for strings are meaningless in the relevant languages, but sound like “com” and “net” when spoken, that it could cause confusion.
New back-end providers have cause for celebration
While there was little doubt that back-end providers Verisign, Neustar, Afilias and CORE would receive passing grades by ICANN — they all run gTLDs already — new market entrants did not have reasons for the same confidence.
However, ARI Registry Services, Demand Media, CentralNIC, KISA, KSRegistry and KNET are all named back-ends for passing applications in the first batch.
This should come as a cause for celebration for these companies, and a relief for their clients.
Because many applications used the same boilerplate back-end text, there’s good reason to believe that other bids using these registry providers are likely to pass the technical portion of Initial Evaluation too.
Afilias doesn’t have any passes yet
Top-three player Afilias, so far, does not have any passing apps.
One of its clients is at position #7 in the priority queue, but it’s one of the three applications in the top 30 to be still chasing follow-up questions or change requests with ICANN.
Probably nothing to worry about here.

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Comments (31)

  1. M says:

    “Some of Verisign’s applications for transliterations of .com and .net in scripts such as Chinese and Hindi have passed IE, meaning the evaluators weren’t worried about possible clashes with their legacy equivalents.”
    The existing registrant of: भारत.com
    Is the only registrant that can activate/register भारत.कॉम so i don’t think there should be any user confusion in the DNS in this approach?

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      Where does it say that in Verisign’s applications?

      • Rubens Kuhl says:

        Or even if it says so, is it bound by a PIC or are just words in the wind ?

      • fizz says:

        Eg. Verisign’s application fo Japanese transliteration:
        18(b). How proposed gTLD will benefit registrants, Internet users, and others
        “As of this writing, more than 800,000 internationalized second-level domain names are registered in .com,
        including approximately 50,000 in Katakana. The JAPANESE_TRANSLITERATION_OF_.COM gTLD,
        along with the other proposed IDN transliterations of .com, provide an immediate benefit to registrants of
        those names by giving them the opportunity to register IDN second-level domain names as “IDN.IDN”
        domain names. That is, registrants can use their preferred script in both the second-level domain name
        and the gTLD name. Doing so improves these domain names’ functionality and accessibility to speakers
        of non-Latin-based languages.”

        • Kevin Murphy says:

          I wouldn’t read that as meaning *only* the existing registrant can register those names.

          • JS says:

            I agree with this. My understanding is that VRSN has said in the past that will block/reserve and vice versa. Whether it’s still their agenda is difficult to say because, as you pointed out, their applications did not discuss this topic in detail.
            I don’t think there was ever a moment where VRSN wanted .com registrants to be the only ones to be able to register .com-in-IDN, that doesn’t make sense.

  2. Fahd A. Batayneh says:

    The Arabic transliteration of .com (.كوم) received waves of criticism in the Arabic language speaking countries, and some sent their objections to ICANN.
    Since the majority of IDN applications originated from the Asia-Pacific region, the APTLD formed a working group to address such concerns.

  3. Gary says:

    I like your blog Kevin, unlike most people, you don’t just regurgitate the same old news – you make the effort to do the research, and most of the time you are spot-on…
    .. however this time, you missed the mark by a mile, I thought you were on top of all this, and unlike most, actually understood the IDN gTLD applications.
    >>>meaning the evaluators weren’t worried about possible clashes with their legacy equivalents.
    There’s been some concern from some parts of the world that because the applied-for strings are meaningless in the relevant languages, but sound like “com” and “net” when spoken, that it could cause confusion<<<
    This is rubbish.
    In Verisigns applications they stated that the new gTLDs they applied for, that are transliterations of "com" or "net" will be offered to existing registrants of IDN dot com/net.
    So what you call "confusion" is actually deliberate.
    ком and com are supposed to sound the same, because they will be registered and run by the same registrant, thus enabling a full IDN.IDN. If they weren’t run by the same registrant, then yes I agree, it would cause huge confusion, but that’s not the intention, nor ever was.

    • Tina Dam says:

      Actually, I think I agree with Kevin on this one. ICANN has tried to solve the subject of variant TLDs in different ways, proposing for example ‘same registrant’ or ‘same site’ and other proposed solutions (some referred to as ‘synchronized TLDs’) – but this far it has not been approved solutions.
      As such, had ICANN or the evaluators found that these TLDs were variants of existing TLDs (e.g. .com and .net), then they would have been flagged as such and placed on hold until a solution for managing them is in place (that is explicitly stated in the AGB).
      I think sometimes ‘variant’ is being confused with the notion of ‘confusing to’. This is not necessarily wrong from a general public perspective, but the AGB treats them differently and has specific definitions for each.

      • Gary says:

        >>>ICANN has tried to solve the subject of variant TLDs in different ways, proposing for example ‘same registrant’ or ‘same site’ and other proposed solutions (some referred to as ‘synchronized TLDs’) – but this far it has not been approved solutions.<<<
        if you are referring to your tenure at ICANN, you did little to forward this. Instead choosing to focus on the low hanging fruit of ccTLDs, firmly throwing the IDN gTLDs under a bus, and then bailing out to go and sell yourself to the highest bidder in the gTLD new application market.
        Your past is tainted on this topic, and your current status has a conflict of interests.
        with respect, your opinion on this topic, is worth very little.

        • Tina Dam says:

          Excuse me Gary – what exactly do you know about my reason for leaving ICANN? Absolutely nothing, as far as I can tell from that comment!
          I also did nothing to throw IDN gTLDs under the bus.
          I did _not_ sell myself to the highest bid – not even close!
          I have nothing to do with an IDN gTLD application – so I have no conflict of interest either.
          After 9 years at ICANN I care _a_lot_ about IDNs, ICANN and how these things are solved and it is entirely in my right to make comments on it.
          Later in this comment thread you talk about variants as well….pretty relevant anyways then maybe…

      • JS says:

        Tina, I think we all agree that the basis to VRSN “aliasing” is not the Top Level Variant program as defined by ICANN. It’s simply the statements made by VRSN over the years coupled the high level ICANN principle that user confusion is unacceptable and that such confusion is likely to occur if there is no aliasing.

        • Tina Dam says:

          I don’t think they agreed to aliasing and probably cant unless it is approved as a solution by ICANN. But I think they had previously stated a pre-registration right, before opening it to the public.
          That does not change the fact that ICANN has not listed these TLDs as variants of existing ones.

          • JS says:

            No one here is referring to the variant TLDs as defined by ICANN, that’s what I was trying to say.
            The “aliasing” we’re referring to is not one that falls under Variant TLD Program.

          • Tina Dam says:

            @JS ok we agree then. But I think it may be difficult for VeriSign to be allowed to do anything like that without the ICANN approval. And that is pending the variant solutions generally.
            That is, except for a pre-registration period for existing registrants.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      I know this is what IDN .com owners want, and it may have been what Verisign has indicated in the past, but I don’t see any evidence in its applications that only registrants will have access to the idn.idn equivalent.

      • Gary says:

        Forget for a moment what everyone thinks or wants or is guessing will happen – there’s lots of agendas at play in this topic, instead let’s focus on a simple question:
        How can there be a situation where 2 identically sounding domains resolve to 2 different places?
        That is the only question that needs to be answered.

        • Kevin Murphy says:

          I agree that it presents problems.
          But it already happens.

          • Gary says:

            hehe. i was waiting for you to quote an anomaly word in the English language, there maybe what a dozen or so more
            but we’re not talking anomalies, we’re talking about a scale already in the 7 figures and growing.

          • JS says:

            I own IDNs myself, I am therefore biased, but in a best effort to be objective on this topic, I think the question can be summed up to this (as highlighted in the exchange between Kevin and Gary):
            Is it good business strategy for Verisign to operate two distinct namespaces that are aurally and semantically identical (and partly visually identical as well).

          • Kevin Murphy says:

            I agree, JS.
            I would argue strongly that it makes the best long-term business sense for Verisign to avoid confusion to the greatest extent possible.
            I hope owners get a fair deal here.
            However, consider two things:
            1) Verisign just lost its .com price-increasing powers.
            2) No price controls on new gTLDs.

          • JS says:

            I personally do not see this as a problem given that was never the final product, therefore both investors and “native users” will want, a namespace with no price cap as you mentioned.
            As IDN investors, what we’re looking forward to the most is not so much the ком com “aliasing/blocking/reserve/” scheme – which we take for granted – but a shot at transitioning to .ком based on our “vested” interest in .com
            In the end the growth and opportunity from a registry point of view is ком. That it’s not price capped is an opportunity to take the current .com base, transition it to ком and use that as a head start, in my opinion. However I may be so deep in this IDN thing that I’m not making any sense by now 😀

      • Fahd A. Batayneh says:

        Kevin, from the discussions of the APTLD working group that commented on the .com transliterations, one of the group members tried to lobby the work of the WG away from the desired outcomes it was initially formed for, and he mentioned explicitly the following:
        1. A registrant of a domain.tld will have the transliteration of the same domain name under all 12 idn.idn by default and at no additional cost. When the registrant decides on activating one, some payment will be involved.
        2. A new registrant of a domain name must start with a domain.tld to obtain all 12 idn.idn transliterations, and cannot be done otherwise.

  4. Mike says:

    There is NO promise of Aliasing. Read what they wrote carefully. In fact there is NO reason for aliasing.
    Expect some government objections for IDN’s.
    Also notice that there are some identical by meaning applications but in different languages that no one objected to. And as Verisign themselves said .co can co exist with .com. So really would never be confused with as the meaning of .com that verisign chose has no connection at all to .com in English. So it can be easily delegated to new comers.

  5. Gary says:

    @Mike: you used the example of Verisigns Chinese gTLD application, and to a degree you are right, what they actually applied for was not a “com” transliteration, but actually “dot com”.
    It’s the same story for the Korean “dot com” and “dot net” transliterations.
    But they are isolated cases. If you look at the applications for Japanese, Thai, Russian and Hindi, those are straight transliterations of “com”.
    So any outcome where a current registration of and a new registration of co-exist but resolve to different places and are registered by 2 different people, will cause massive confusion.
    at the end of the day, “co” and “com” sound different. com and ком sound the same.

    • Dan says:

      mike- dot kom in Russian is not like .com in English. you are wrong. Also in Hebrew its not the same at all. The writing is from different sides -so no one would get confused.
      The fact, that icann didn’t see a problem in apps for legal law or hotel/s, shows you that its really no problem at all.
      I do appreciate the fact that you are biased and want a first shot at this by aliasing… however, when you speak out-you should say that you are from idnforum and all of you have one agenda on your mind :-))
      In China you guys lost to CNNIC. You got the junk extnesion… But now you might have gotten lucky as someone seemed to have objected to their application.
      Also China – is the biggest market-so in that case you admit there is no need for aliasing rights at all. So Im cool with that :-)) More for newcomers!

  6. R. E. = ” There’s been some concern from some parts of the world that because the applied-for strings are meaningless in the relevant languages, but sound like “com” and “net” when spoken, that it could cause confusion<<<
    This is rubbish"
    Kevin you know this is all rubbish, self induced by you, as to taint the real picture. Where do you get this self serving propoganda ?
    You are terribly misinformed or are being payed to spread lies about the Closed Monopoly TLD Hoax. You are very transparent to me and others that know the truth about the Closed Monopoly TLD Hoax.
    Good luck in promoting the closed Monopoly TLD Folly, as it won't be around very long.
    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger)

  7. yanni says:

    “2.1 Business Goals
    The initial target audience for JAPANESE_TRANSLITERATION_OF_.COM is the registrants of the
    approximately 50,000 IDN second-level addresses in .com. These registrants will have the opportunity to
    register their addresses as IDN. JAPANESE_TRANSLITERATION_OF_.COM addresses. ”
    What do you read in the second sentence?

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