Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

Van Gelder leaves NBT, goes solo with consulting biz

Kevin Murphy, December 12, 2012, Domain Services

Stephane Van Gelder, who co-founded the French registrar Indom in 1999, is leaving the company at the end of the year.
He’s founding a new company, Stephane Van Gelder Consulting, saying he wants to provide consulting services to domain portfolio owners, registrars and registries.
Indom was acquired by European registrar holding company Group NBT two years ago for about $22 million.
Van Gelder was until October chair of ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization Council, and has recently kindly provided DI with a few provocative guest posts.

List your job openings for free on DI Jobs

Kevin Murphy, December 12, 2012, Domain Services

DI Jobs has been given a total overhaul, and I’m pleased to announced that you can now list your domain name industry job openings completely free of charge.
You can check out the new site here.
The new service supports logos, maps, tags, and allows extensive job descriptions to be uploaded. After posting, ads can be edited by the poster via the account interface.
It’s new software, so should be considered a “beta” for the time being, but early testers tell me everything is functioning as expected so far.
It’s our intention to keep the listing service free forever, though we may introduced premium-placement options at a later date.
DI JOBS
DI JOBS

Europe rejects ICANN’s authority as it warns of problems with 58 new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, November 27, 2012, Domain Services

The European Commission has issued a list of 58 new gTLD applications it considers problematic, thumbing its nose at ICANN’s procedures for handling government objections to new gTLDs.
The list, sent to all applicants this afternoon, draws in several applications that were not already subject to Early Warnings from other GAC nations, including .sex, .sexy and .free.
Remarkably, the cover letter says that the gTLDs are not “Early Warnings” as described by the ICANN Applicant Guidebook and says the Commission may continue to work outside the established process in future:

The position outlined in this letter is without prejudice to any further action that the Commission might decide to undertake in order to safeguard the rights and interests of the European Union and of its citizens.
For the sake of clarity, the Commission does not consider itself legally bound to the processes, including the means of recourse, outlined in the new gTLD Applicant Guidebook and/or adopted by ICANN, unless a legal agreement between the latter and the Commission exists.

While that’s little more than a statement of fact — governments are of course free to do whatever they want in their own jurisdictions — it’s giving applicants much more reason to be nervous.
Even if they don’t receive GAC Advice against their applications, the EC may decide to take other action against them.
The fact that the letter also explicitly states that the warnings are definitely not official Early Warnings — meaning applicants on the list won’t even qualify for the extra refund if they drop out — sends a worrying signal that the EC is not in the mood to play by ICANN’s rules.
As for the list itself, the Commission’s letter states that it’s “non-exhaustive” and that it focuses on bids that “could possibly raise issues of compatibility with the existing legislations (the acquis) and/or with policy positions and objectives of the European Union”.
The fact that the list contains ICM Registry’s .adult and .sex applications, but not its identical .porn bid, seems to confirm that the list does not cover all the gTLDs the Commission has a problem with.
The letter (pdf) states that the Commission will attempt to enter into “further discussions” with the applicants on the list (pdf).

New gTLD marketing conference coming to New York

Kevin Murphy, November 8, 2012, Domain Services

Momentum Consulting has announced a conference focused on marketing with new gTLDs for New York City next March.
The Digital Marketing & gTLD Strategy Congress is designed for brand managers, trademark lawyers and marketing executives, according to organizers.
The preliminary agenda was published today. It includes speakers from Citibank, which has applied for two new gTLDs, Neustar, Afilias, Domain Diction, PIR, Deloitte and Donuts.
ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade has also been invited to deliver the keynote, according to the agenda.
Lead sponsors include Afilias and Domain Diction. DI, Domain Name Wire and The Domains are media sponsors.
The event will run from March 11 to 12 in New York City. The venue does not appear to have been confirmed yet.

Right Of The Dot to offer new gTLD contention auctions with Escrow.com

Kevin Murphy, November 2, 2012, Domain Services

New gTLD consultancy Right Of The Dot has partnered with Escrow.com on a new auction offering designed for new gTLD applicants in contention sets.
The deal, which ROTD said is exclusive, will enable the company to offer trustworthy escrow of funds as part of its auction service.
ROTD is planning three standard types of auction design — sealed-bid, ascending bid and live oral — for when mediation between gTLD applicants fails or is not wanted.
Its fees start at 4% of the winning bid, with the remainder being distributed to losing bidders.
Private auctions are expected in many cases to be the contention resolution method of choice for new gTLD applicants, because the losing bidders get paid when they drop out.
The alternative method laid out in the ICANN Applicant Guidebook would see funds flow instead to ICANN.
ROTD is the consultancy formed last year by well-known domain investors Monte Cahn (formerly of Moniker) and Michael Berkens (author of TheDomains.com).

Indian domain conference attracts 4,000

Kevin Murphy, October 31, 2012, Domain Services

While US domain conferences are reportedly becoming sedate affairs, a domain-heavy summit that kicks off tomorrow in Mumbai has more than 4,000 signed-up attendees, according to organizers.
The two-day ResellerClub Hosting Summit, organized by Directi, may have “hosting” in the title, but its sponsors and agenda reveal a strong presence from the domain name industry.
Verisign is the major sponsor, plugging its .com and .net TLDs. Other sponsors include .org, .biz, .co, .asia and .pw.
The agenda features speakers from Public Interest Registry, ICANN, NameMedia and Directi new gTLD applicant Radix.

ARI expands its DNS business

Kevin Murphy, October 22, 2012, Domain Services

ARI Registry Services officially announced its aggressive targeting of the DNS services market at an event in Toronto last week.
The company says it is the named DNS provider in over 450 new gTLD applications, giving it a substantial foot in the door should they be approved by ICANN.
That’s almost three times as many applications as ARI is involved with as registry provider.
“To our competitors, we are coming for you,” a tired and emotional ARI CEO Adrian Kinderis said during the launch event at a club in Toronto last Tuesday, which DI attended.
“Bring it on,” equally tired and emotional executives from larger competitors were heard to mutter in the audience.
ARI seems to be targeting just TLD operators to begin with, while competitors such as Verisign, Neustar and Afilias also offer managed DNS to enterprises.
ARI already runs the DNS for Australia’s .au.

ICANN unleashes the transparency firehose with MyICANN portal

Kevin Murphy, October 15, 2012, Domain Services

Worried that it can be hard to find useful information on its web sites, ICANN has opened up a new portal, MyICANN.
Part firehose, part sprinkler, MyICANN.org aggregates all of ICANN’s news feeds, many of them apparently new, and enables users to filter them by the topics or languages they’re interested in.
The portal was announced by CEO Fadi Chehade during his inaugural address at the opening of ICANN 45 here in Toronto this morning.
At first, the site is designed to make all the information ICANN publishes on daily basis more accessible, but Chehade said that it will evolve into a “full process management system”, enabling two-way participation.
I’ve been playing with a MyICANN demo all weekend, and it’s already thrown up a few sources of information that even I was not aware of.
It’s quite slick; basically a fancy RSS reader, but I think it could use a few additions.
The volume of information is high enough that the ability to mark items as “read” would be handy. Also, while items are dated I think a more granular timestamp would be useful.

Donuts signs up to Architelos anti-abuse service

Kevin Murphy, October 10, 2012, Domain Services

Architelos has a secured its first major customer win for the NameSentry anti-abuse service that it launched back in August.
Donuts, the highest-volume portfolio gTLD applicant, has signed up for the service, according to the companies.
For Donuts, which is probably the applicant that makes opponents of new gTLDs the most nervous, it’s another chance to show that it’s serious about operating clean zones.
For Architelos, it’s a pretty significant endorsement of its new technology.
The NameSentry service aggregates abuse data from multiple third-party malware, spam and phising lists and presents it in a way that makes it easier for registries shut down bad behavior.

Downtime emerges as key barrier to Trademark Clearinghouse changes

Kevin Murphy, October 10, 2012, Domain Services

The risk of embarrassing technical glitches is now the major stumbling block in discussions about the best way to deploy the forthcoming Trademark Clearinghouse for new gTLDs.
ICANN is worried about the “reputational implications” of the TMCH going offline if, as proposed by domain name registries, it is in the “critical path” of the live registration process.
The concerns emerged in a letter earlier this week, and were discussed during an ICANN conference call yesterday.
The TMCH is expected to be a big database of trademarks, used to support the Trademark Claims and Sunrise periods that new gTLD registries will have to offer.
The policy behind both rights protection mechanisms is settled (essentially), but the actual technical implementation is still open to question.
While ICANN and its two contractors — IBM and Deloitte — have been quietly working on their favored model for some months, the registries that will support most new gTLDs have their own model.
Neustar, ARI Registry Services, Verisign and Demand Media have proposed a TMCH design that they say would be less costly to registries (and therefore brand owners) as well as having certain security benefits.
The problem with the registry’s plan is that it calls for real-time interactions between registrars, registries and the TMCH during the Trademark Claims phase of new gTLD launches.
This would require the Clearinghouse to operate with 100% up-time, which makes ICANN very nervous. It said in its letter this week:

Though requirements for resiliency to guard against such failures will be in place, the risk and impact of a failure incident in a centralized live query system are significant and have an impact on the reputation and, therefore, the effectiveness of the rights protection mechanisms supported by the Trademark Clearinghouse. Such an event could have reputational implications for the Clearinghouse and the New gTLD Program.

If the Clearinghouse went down, the argument goes, it would prevent domain names being registered in new gTLDs.
This would look very bad for ICANN, which has already experienced a few embarrassing technical problems with the program. How its policies and processes perform with live gTLDs will be scrutinized intensely.
But the registries say they’ve mitigated the problem as much as they can in their centralized model.
“It only puts the Trademark Clearinghouse in the critical path for registration for a limited number of registrations,” Neustar vice president Jeff Neuman said on yesterday’s call.
“In our model if a domain name does not match a trademark in the Clearinghouse then the Clearinghouse never sees it, it doesn’t matter if the Clearinghouse is up or down,” he said.
The negative impact of downtime in this scenario is that registrars would not be able to show would-be registrants Trademark Claims notices. But it would not necessarily enable cybersquatting.
Neuman further argued that the TMCH should be covered by the same kinds of service level agreements and data escrow requirements as contracted gTLD registries, minimizing the risk of downtime.
The second major hurdle to the implementation talks is the relative lack to date of input from brand owners.
The intellectual property community has previously expressed reservations about any TMCH model that would enable data mining by bad actors or opportunistic registrars and registries.
Yes, it’s a data privacy issue. Brand owners are worried that the contents of the Clearinghouse could be used by competitors to find holes in their trademark protection strategies, or by scammers.
While yesterday’s call had more input from the trademark community, the real work will come next Wednesday during a session at ICANN 45 in Toronto.