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Sold for over $20k, insure.ai and dog.ai back in .ai’s expired names auction

Kevin Murphy, January 26, 2024, Domain Sales

The Government of Anguilla has put its latest batch of expired .ai domains up for auction, including a handful of single-word names and a great many three-character strings. There are 1,878 domains on the list.

At least two of the domains being auctioned off were reported sold earlier this month at the last .ai expired names auction — insure.ai, which fetched a winning bid of $24,700, and dog.ai, which reached $21,311.

They were the third and fourth most-expensive domains in the earlier auction. The domains’ Whois show the registry is still the current registrant, so the winning bidder(s) presumably didn’t pay up.

Other English dictionary-word domains that caught my eye include technological.ai, bucharest.ai, fulfilled.ai, annotated.ai, sponsorship.ai, forged.ai, crowded.ai, springboard.ai and queer.ai.

The list is notable for the number of times the word “meta” appears — well over 100 times. This is presumably due to these three facts: 1) .ai has a two-year minimum registration term, 2) it takes 90 days for expired names to make it to auction, and 3) Facebook rebranded itself as Meta in October 2021.

For any masochists among you, some obvious cybersquats are also listed for sale, including facebookmeta.ai, facebookmetaverse.ai and facebook-metaverse.ai. Remember, .ai uses the UDRP too.

The auction ends February 5.

.ai helps UDRP cases rise in 2023, WIPO says

Kevin Murphy, January 26, 2024, Domain Policy

The number of cybersquatting cases filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization increased 7% in 2023, WIPO said this week.

The total UDRP filings, 6,192, includes national ccTLD variations that WIPO handles but not UDRP filings with other providers.

WIPO said that 82% of cases resulted in the domain being transferred to the complainant, with the complaint being denied in just 3% of cases.

The organization does not publish data on Reverse Domain Name Hijacking findings, but RDNH.com, which tracks these things, shows 31 RDNH finding at WIPO in 2023.

.com accounted for 80% of complaints. WIPO said that the most complained-about ccTLDs were .co (Colombia), .cn (China), .mx (Mexico), .au (Australia) and .ai (Anguilla).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given its rapid growth in registrations, Anguilla’s .ai saw a sharp uptick in UDRP filings last year, up from just four in 2022 to 43 in 2023, according to the WIPO web site.

Anguilla fears the .ai junk drop

Kevin Murphy, January 9, 2024, Domain Registries

A junk drop is an anxiety-inducing prospect for any domain registry, but what if the registry is a national government and domain revenues are suddenly a huge portion of the money it has to spend on public services?

That’s the situation the Caribbean island of Anguilla finds itself in today, having benefited from a huge windfall last year with the sale of .ai domains but not a guarantee that its hundreds of thousands of new registrants will stick around.

Speaking to the local legislature in mid-December, Premier Ellis Webster said that .ai sales brought in a projected 77.18 million East Caribbean Dollars ($28.5 million) in 2023, compared to its start-of-year budget estimate of EC$24 million ($8.9 million).

That’s a huge chunk — about 20% — of the government’s overall 2023 revenue of EC$399.13 million ($148 million).

Just two years earlier, before the popularization of AI with the rise of tools such as ChatGPT, domains were bringing in just shy of EC$20 million ($7.4 million) against an overall government revenue of EC$220 million ($81.4 million).

But it seems Webster has been well-advised on the speculative nature of the domain name industry. He told lawmakers .ai’s performance was “a moment of pride and potential” but added that it “also calls for a moment of introspection and caution”.

The main beneficiary of the new domain money will be the development of Anguilla’s small single airport and growing the island’s important tourism sector, Webster indicated, something governments have been promising for years. Roads and schools will also see investment.

Anguilla is a British overseas territory with an estimated population of about 16,000.

According to a transcript of his remarks (pdf), Webster said:

We must acknowledge that these revenue streams, while robust, are not under the direct control of our government. The digital landscape is ever-changing, and what seems like a perennial source today can rapidly evolve tomorrow…

Our approach must be balanced — leveraging this opportunity to enhance our infrastructure and services while maintaining a diversified and sustainable revenue base. This will ensure that we do not find ourselves in a precarious position should the dynamics of the digital domain market shift

While .ai may be somewhat resistant to over-speculation due to its high prices (up to 10x .com, depending where you buy), those high prices may also inspire speculators to let their names drop if the .ai aftermarket fails to live up to expectations.

It seems certain that AI is going to become an all-pervasive force in human civilization in the coming years, but there’s always the risk that the same might not be true of .ai.

Almost 50,000 .ai domains sold in a quarter

Kevin Murphy, January 8, 2024, Domain Registries

The Government of Anguilla continued to benefit from the rising popularity of artificial intelligence in the fourth quarter of 2023, with almost 50,000 more .ai domains being registered.

As of December 20, there were 353,928 .ai domains, compared to 306,861 on September 26, an increase of 47,067, according to the registry’s web site. That’s an increase of 105,319 compared to the number reported June 14.

Over 100,000 names in half a year is pretty impressive for a tiny island territory — comparable to growth in ccTLDs for far more populous nations such as Germany (.de) and Brazil (.br) — and it comes despite the relatively hefty price tag .ai commands.

At the major registrars today, you’re likely to pay $60 to $80 a year for an initial registration, with a two-year minimum. Renewals are about ten bucks more.

There’s certainly a certain degree of speculation going on here, but it’s far lower than you typically see in heavily discounted gTLDs.

The increased popularity seems to have come with increased abuse risk. The registry’s operator has hastily updated the terms of service a few times over the last year, making more types of conduct unacceptable.

Over 50,000 .ai domains sold in three months

Kevin Murphy, December 19, 2023, Domain Registries

The .ai ccTLD registry sold over 50,000 domain names in just over a quarter, according to the registry.

Its recently updated web site says its total domains under management as of September 23 was 306,861, compared to 248,609 on June 14.

That represents a growth acceleration from its last update, which saw it register over 100,000 domains in a year.

The domain is of course popular due to the rise of artificial intelligence technologies and the popularity of chatbots such as ChatGPT.

The registry says its renewal rate in over 90% — very high for a TLD — but it expects that to decline due to its rapid growth.

The registry is managed by the Government of Anguilla, a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean.

.ai sells 100,000 domains in a year

Kevin Murphy, August 31, 2023, Domain Registries

The registry managing the .ai ccTLD grew its business by over 100,000 domains in the last 12 months, according to its web site.

The company that manages the domain for the Government of Anguilla, DataHaven.net, typically does not disclose its reg numbers — its plain text web site is extremely bare bones and it lets its registrars do the marketing — but that changed when it recently updated its FAQ with the lines:

What is the total number of domains?
As of July 20, 2022 the total was 143,737 domains.
As of June 14, 2023 the total is 248,609 domains.

According to a Bloomberg interview this week, the number is now 287,432. It seems the rise of ChatGPT, which launched at the end of last year, and large language model AIs has spurred interest in the domain.

Bloomberg reckons .ai may account for 10% of Anguila’s GDP. The Caribbean British territory has a population of just 16,000 and makes most of its money from tourism and offshore banking.

ChatGPT maker files UDRP on .com match

Kevin Murphy, April 3, 2023, Domain Policy

The registrant of chatgpt.com must have thought he’d hit the motherlode when he picked up the domain last December, almost a month after it launched and days after the wildly popular AI chatbot had already received rave reviews from the global press.

What he got instead was a UDRP complaint with WIPO, which ChatGPT maker OpenAI filed last week.

While you’d expect it to be an open-and-shut case, it appears OpenAI was almost as slow with its trademark applications as it was with its domain registration strategy.

The company uses a subdomain of openai.com for the chat service. It launched November 30 last year and received high praise in outlets including the New York Times over the following week.

The .com registrant picked up the previously unregistered name on December 13, but it was not until December 27 that OpenAI applied for a US trademark on the brand.

It wasn’t even the first to apply for a trademark. A company called BrandCentral applied for the mark on December 15, in various “merch” categories unrelated to AI or software, but has since withdrawn the application.

Fortunately for OpenAI, WIPO allows complainants to assert common law trademark rights if the brand is sufficiently famous, and ChatGPT had well over a million users by the time the domain in question was registered.

Verisign looking at ChatGPT-like name-spinner

Kevin Murphy, February 13, 2023, Domain Registries

Verisign is “looking closely” at overnight AI chatbot sensation ChatGPT to see if its technology can be incorporated into its name-spinner tool, NameStudio.

CEO Jim Bidzos told analysts last week: “ChatGPT and NameStudio will actually help you find a similar and equally good or maybe even better name and we’re looking closely at ChatGPT to see about using its capabilities to enhance what NameStudio does.”

He dismissed suggestions such AI tools might negatively impact domain names, comparing it to misplaced concerns about voice assistants (presumably meaning the likes of Alexa and Siri).

Last month, I blogged about a new name-spinner web site using the same AI technology as ChatGPT to come up with name suggestions and speculated that this will likely become the industry standard before too long.

Fun name-spinner uses AI to suggest domains

Kevin Murphy, January 30, 2023, Domain Services

The founder of a recently launched name-spinner web site says the AI-based tool has already been used a million times in a month, and I can see why.

The site, SmartyNames.com, is reportedly based on the same GPT-3 natural language processing software as the incredibly popular ChatGPT chatbot.

Users simply type in a description of their project or business and the tool spits out a list of available domains that might fit the bill.

It’s a bit hit-and-miss, but fun to play with.

“It’s a service that employs ex-convicts to detach the heads from rubber ducks” resulted in suggestions such as duckdetach.com, antiduck.com and, hilarious proving that it’s not just working with keywords, quackless.com.

Right now, the site seems to be monetized with affiliate links to some of the major registrars, but founder Kirill Zubovsky said in a blog post that a premium subscription version with extra services for domain buyers is in the works.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the future of name-spinning.

CentralNic gets into artificial intelligence

Kevin Murphy, July 9, 2021, Domain Tech

CentralNic has formed a business unit dedicated to big data and artificial intelligence.

The new Data and Artificial Intelligence Group will be headed by chief data scientist Pawel Rzeszucinski.

The company said that the group will be tasked with leveraging the “vast” amounts of data it generates as a registrar, registry, DNS resolution provider and domain monetization service.

CentralNic said in a press release:

CentralNic stores, manages, and is exposed to huge datasets that can be used for advanced analysis. Examples include; navigation data on tens of millions of daily DNS queries, ad-tech data on tens of millions of domain advertisements, site usage data on hundreds of millions of unique visits and millions of monthly clicks, and similarly extensive data on transactions and registrations.

These extremely large data sets lend themselves perfectly to AI and machine learning applications that can be used to provide a large array of initiatives which will benefit both the Company and our customers. These include; improved customer service, optimised business operations and decision making, enhanced marketing, reduced customer churn and automated detection of non-compliant customer activity.

There’s no mention of licensing its data to third parties, and the company notes that its initiatives will be compliant with current and future privacy rules from the public and private sectors, such as GDPR.