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First GlobalBlock prices revealed — they ain’t cheap

Kevin Murphy, February 15, 2024, Domain Services

Trademarks owners, organizations and celebrities could find themselves paying the thick end of ten grand for the “peace of mind” offered by the new GoDaddy-led GlobalBlock trademark protection service.

101domain, which often has some of the least-expensive pricing, has become the first registrar to publish its prices for the domain-blocking service, which entered beta this week.

The base GlobalBlock service, which offers single-string blocking in 560 gTLDs and ccTLDs, is going for $5,999 per year, according to the 101domain storefront. The GlobalBlock+ version, which covers potentially tens of thousands of variants and typos, starts at $8,999 a year.

None of the other 20 approved GlobalBlock resellers I checked are currently publishing prices.

Some simple division shows us that the basic service works out to roughly $10.71 per domain per year — a bit more than Verisign will charge for a wholesale .com when its prices go up later this year — but the average per-domain cost should go down as more registries sign up to GlobalBlock.

With the GlobalBlock+ service offering to block 50,000 domains or more, the per-domain price obviously shrinks to pennies.

GlobalBlock is offered by the Brand Safety Alliance, a GoDaddy initiative, but it has support from the likes of Identity Digital, which has hundreds of gTLDs in its stable. Dozens of gTLD registry operators have recently asked ICANN’s permission to offer GlobalBlock and rival offering NameBlock.

The BSA has previously said it expects to launch with over 650 TLDs on board. A calculator on its web site suggests 511 are currently operational, but it has not yet named the participating TLDs.

D3 signs up crypto gTLD client number five

Kevin Murphy, February 15, 2024, Domain Services

New gTLD consultancy D3 Global has signed up its fifth blockchain gTLD client since launching last September.

The company today announced a deal with Core Chain to apply for .core when ICANN next opens a new gTLD application window, currently expected mid-2026.

Core Chain makes a software platform for developers that want to building decentralized applications on blockchains. It says it has over five million connected cryptocurrency wallets.

D3 has recently announced similar partnerships with NEAR Foundation (.near), Gate.io (.gate), Viction (.vic) and Shiba Inu (.shib).

The company says its mission is to help blockchain companies operate on the traditional DNS as well as the blockchain-based alternate naming systems.

GoDaddy project unveils brand-blocking calculator

Kevin Murphy, February 12, 2024, Domain Services

GlobalBlock, an ambitious brand-protection initiative led by GoDaddy, has revealed a blocking calculator on its web site, showing potential clients how many thousands of domains they can expect to block for a single annual fee.

The calculator takes the user’s trademark as input (you can enter any string) and tells them how many domains are eligible to be blocked with the GlobalBlock service, which includes exact-match names in hundreds of TLDs, and GlobalBlock+, which includes variants.

The first value seems to top out at 511 right now, suggesting there are currently 511 TLDs live in the system.

The GlobalBlock+ result seems to depend to a large extent on how many potentially confusing homographs (such as ASCII letters that look like Cyrillic or Greek letters) your trademark contains. The string “facebook” shows 58,765 blocks, for example, while “google” returns 63,875.

GlobalBlock, a service of the GoDaddy-owned Brand Safety Alliance, had previously said it expects to launch this week with over 650 supported TLDs. Several gTLD registries are still waiting for ICANN approval to participate via the Registry Service Evaluation Process.

What’s not currently available is pricing. GlobalBlock is selling via “agents”, usually registrars, and while some registrars have already started marketing the service with press releases or blog posts, nobody seems to have put a dollar value on the service yet.

D3 announces fourth crypto new gTLD client

Kevin Murphy, February 8, 2024, Domain Services

New gTLD consultancy startup D3 Global, which emerged just five months ago, is signing up would-be applicants at a pretty rapid clip, announcing its fourth client today.

The company said it is working with NEAR Foundation, a Swiss non-profit, to apply for .near when ICANN opens up the next application window, which is currently expected in 2026.

NEAR is behind what it calls a Blockchain Operating System, a set of software designed to make it easier for developers to create apps that work across multiple blockchains.

D3’s specialty is working with companies that want to apply for gTLDs that work on both blockchains and the consensus ICANN DNS root.

It’s already announced deals with Gate.io (.gate), Viction (.vic) and Shiba Inu (.shib).

Another crypto firm to apply for a new gTLD

Kevin Murphy, February 1, 2024, Domain Services

D3 Global, the new gTLD consultancy specializing in cryptocurrency and blockchain clients, has signed up its third public client.

The company plans to help Gate.io apply to ICANN for .gate when the next application round opens, currently expected in 2026, according to a press release today.

Gate.io is a cryptocurrency exchange that claims to have 13 million users worldwide (although it appears to be unavailable in several large markets) that was founded in China 10 years ago.

D3 is a startup founded by some domain industry pioneers that offers companies support with applying for regular gTLDs that can interoperate with blockchain-based naming systems.

It’s already announced deals with companies called Shib and Viction for the strings .shib and .vic.

Weak demand for private Whois data, ICANN data shows

Kevin Murphy, January 17, 2024, Domain Services

There were fewer than six requests for private Whois data per day in December, and most of those were denied, according to newly published ICANN data.

The disappointing numbers, which also show that only about 2.5% of accredited registrars are participating, show that ICANN’s new Registration Data Request Service is certainly off to a slow start.

RDRS launched in November. It’s a ticketing system that enables people to request unredacted private Whois data, with no guarantee the requests will be granted, from registrars via an ICANN portal.

As it’s a two-year trial, ICANN promised to publish usage data every month. The first such report was published today (pdf).

The report shows that 1,481 requester accounts have been created so far, but that just 174 requests were made in December — about 5.6 per day on average.

Almost a third of requesters were intellectual property interests, with domain investors at 4.5% and law enforcement at 8%. Security researchers accounted for 15% of requests.

The data shows that most requests — 80.47% — were marked as “Denied” by registrars, largely because the registrar needed more information from the requester before it could process their request. ICANN said RDRS has no visibility into whether data was ultimately handed over outside of the system.

The supply-side data isn’t particularly encouraging either. Only 72 registrars were participating in RDRS at the end of the year.

That’s 2.5% of the 2,814 registrar entities ICANN contracts with, but if we exclude the 2,000+ drop-catching shell registrars owned by the likes of TurnCommerce, Newfold Digital and Gname, participation might be more fairly said to be closer to 10%.

ICANN said that the 72 registrars, which include many of the largest, account for 53% of all registered gTLD domain names, so you might think requesters have a better-than-even chance of being able to use the system for any given domain.

That’s not the case. RDRS data requesters are finding that the domain they are querying belongs to a non-participating registrar far more often than not — 80% of queries through the system were for domains not in the system, the report shows.

And when the registrar is participating, chances are that the data request will be denied — 80% were denied versus just 11.72% approved and 1.56% partially approved.

It takes on average two days for a request to be denied and four days for a request to be approved, the report shows.

While the results to date are arguably disappointing, given the years of effort the ICANN community and staff put in to build this thing, it’s still early days.

I also think it quite likely some of the numbers have been skewed by both the Christmas and New Year holiday period and early-adopter requesters kicking the tires with spurious requests.

GoDaddy service to let you block domains in over 650 TLDs

Kevin Murphy, December 11, 2023, Domain Services

GlobalBlock, a domain blocking service introduced to little fanfare by GoDaddy Registry and Identity Digital in June, is planning to launch next month with support from over 650 gTLDs and ccTLDs.

Built on the successes of GoDaddy’s AdultBlock and Identity Digital’s DPML, the new service was supposed to launch last week under the banner of the Brand Safety Alliance, but was delayed until January.

GlobalBlock enables trademark owners to pay one fee to block their marks across all participating TLDs, saving money on defensive registrations. Company names and celebrity names are also covered. A premium version, GlobalBlock+ also covers typos and IDN homographs.

It’s not just gTLD registries that have signed up. Nominet is participating, as is CoCCA. BSA is promising some pretty obscure ccTLDs will be part of the service.

In what appears to be a game-changing innovation, a feature of the service called Priority Autocatch seems set to stop cybersquatters and phishers from drop-catching domains that match strings protected by the block list.

Say you’re Facebook and you see some scumbag has registered facébook.ninja, if you’re subscribed to GlobalBlock+, the AutoCatch feature will see the domain removed from the available pool when it expires, rather than dropping so a second ne’er-do-well can register it.

GlobalBlock appears to be the reason no fewer than 35 registries covering over 300 gTLDs have recently asked ICANN for permission to launch a “Label Blocking Service” via the Registry Service Evaluation Process.

There’s money in blocking services. GoDaddy is making millions from AdultBlock. Some research I’ve been doing recently suggests some registries might be making more from blocks and defensive registrations than they are from regular domain sales.

For registries with small TLD portfolios, blocking services generally offer a poor value proposition. Services like DPML, which covers hundreds of TLDs, or AdultBlock, which covers all the porny ones, have been successful.

The BSA is offering brand owners a lot of carrots to get them to sign up early.

First, if you already have an AdultBlock or DPML subscription, your marks are already pre-validated. GoDaddy is also offering a 50% discount on AdultBlock until January 30; AdultBlock and DPML subscribers get 10% off GlobalBlock until April 30.

BSA says that pricing for GlobalBlock and the initial list of TLDs will be released in early January. Wholesale pricing will go up probably every six months as new TLDs are added, but customers will only pay the increased price upon renewal while benefiting from the added blocks.

General availability pricing begins February 15.

Blockchain domain firm raises $2.5 million

Kevin Murphy, September 11, 2023, Domain Services

Switzerland-based startup Freename said it has secured $2.5 million in seed funding to pursue its ambitions in blockchain-based domain names.

The round was led by Sparkle Ventures with participation from Abalone Asset Management, Golden Record Ventures, Blockchain Founders Fund, and Sheikh Mayed Al Qasimi, a member of a UAE royal family.

Freename, which can be found at freename.io, says it enables pretty much anybody to register a TLD on a blockchain and then earn 50% of the reg fee whenever somebody registers a second-level domain in that TLD.

The “free” appears to mean as in speech, rather than as in beer. If I want to register .murphy, it will apparently set me back $4,099, meaning I’d have to sell over 1,600 2LDs at $5 a pop to make my money back. A gibberish string of characters will cost $79. Freename says it does not charge renewal fees.

It also seems to be reserving strings when they match a “brand, organization, or notable person”, weakening the case that blockchain offers
a liberating alternative to the centralized control inherent to the ICANN root.

Terms associated with some crimes also appear to be blocked, as are strings that match existing generic TLDs in the authoritative DNS.

The company says it has issued 5,000 TLDs on multiple blockchains since it launched last year, but of course users need to install a custom browser plug-in for any of them to actually resolve.

Freename says it hopes to help make these “Web3” domains compatible with traditional “Web2” DNS over time.

AcornDomains bought by conference organizer

Kevin Murphy, April 17, 2023, Domain Services

The UK-focused domainer forum AcornDomains has been bought by the company that runs the fledgling London Domain Summit.

Domainer Helmuts Meskonis said he’s bought the site via his companies, Helmuts Limited and No Stress Limited, which also runs hosting company HostMaria.

Meskonis said he’s bringing on two more moderators — current community members — to “help ensure that the forum continues to be a friendly and safe place for everyone.”

He also hinted that prices for advertising and the optional premium membership fee may be going up.

Since he announced the deal on the forum on Saturday, feedback from users has been generally positive.

Meskonis is founder of the London Domain Summit, which held its inaugural event — a low-key affair at a restaurant — last year. He’s planning to run a second event this August.

Unstoppable offering free .nft names to Twitter users

Kevin Murphy, January 31, 2023, Domain Services

Unstoppable Domains is enabling Twitter users to claim free “domains” in its alt-root blockchain-based TLD .nft.

The site offers users a domain that matches their Twitter handle. You only need to authorize its app to log in using Twitter credentials, much like other Twitter-connected apps.

Actually using the name seems to require you to have a cryptocurrency wallet. And of course you won’t be able to use the name to address a web site unless all your visitors use a specialist plug-in or certain browsers.

Unstoppable usually sells .nft names for $29, with no renewal fees. It says it currently has 3.1 million names across its portfolio of crypto-themed alt-root TLDs.