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First new gTLD contention set settled as Uniregistry and TLDH sign deal

Kevin Murphy, April 29, 2013, 13:23:14 (UTC), Domain Registries

Top Level Domain Holdings and Uniregistry have inked a deal to go splits on the proposed .country registry, the first publicly announced settlement of a new gTLD contention set.
The two companies are the only applicants for .country, so assuming one or both applications are approved by ICANN no auction will be required to decide who gets to run it.
It’s not yet clear which applicant will drop out of the race; it appears that TLDH and Uniregistry are waiting for their Initial Evaluation results to come out before making that call.
A new 50:50 joint venture will be formed to take over the contract. The companies said in a press release:

Under the conditional heads of terms for the proposed joint venture, either Uniregistry or TLDH will withdraw its application and, once the surviving applications is approved by ICANN, the authority to operate .country will be transferred to the new joint venture. The transfer will require ICANN approval, which the directors of the Company fully expect to be forthcoming.

Uniregistry’s prioritization number is 1232 and TLDH’s is 664. If TLDH passes Initial Evaluation, it would make sense for Uniregistry to pull out at that time to speed up the time to delegation.
TLDH CEO Antony Van Couvering said the deal is “pro-competitive and will result in lower prices for consumers”.
Uniregistry and TLDH are competing on another 20 gTLD strings, but .country is the only two-horse race they’re involved in.

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Comments (4)

  1. Michael Palage says:

    Good news to see commercial resolution to contention sets, hopefully a positive sign of things to come.
    However, it will be interesting to see how the silent partner (a.k.a. The GAC) impacts not only the allocation of this TLD but also the day to day operations.

    • Michael Palage says:

      While both applications explicitly target country music/culture, it is interesting that only TLDH submitted a PICS disclosure. However, I think that PICS statement will need to be bolstered to keep the silent partner silent.

  2. Rubens Kuhl says:

    So, the same Uniregistry that once criticized private contention set resolution now comes up with a deal ?
    No hard feelings Frank, just asking… 😉

  3. Frank Schilling says:

    Thanks Reubens. At bottom, we believe this deal is pro-competitive and doesn’t raise the same issues we were alerted to over private auctions. I’ll leave this as my only comment as we really don’t want to engage in an online debate in the trade press about the “why” with the auctioneers, who will never agree with me and would have preferred to see TLDH and Uniregistry go to a private auction.

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