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CentralNic passes on abandoned dot-brand

Kevin Murphy, September 6, 2022, Domain Registries

CentralNic has sold on the dead dot-brand it acquired last year, to a company run by Sav.com’s CEO.

.case was originally owned by CNH Industrial, a large maker of industrial machinery, but it was sold off to CentralNic subsidiary Helium last year when the company dumped its portfolio of unwanted dot-brands.

I speculated at the time that it was acquired merely to be sold — Helium previously acted as an interregnum operators of .fans, and that turned out to be correct. CentralNic did nothing with it — the NIC page still shows images of diggers — and it has no registered domains.

The new owner is a company called Digity, whose president is Sav.com CEO Anthos Chrysanthou.

Now Nokia scraps a dot-brand

Kevin Murphy, August 3, 2022, Domain Registries

Finnish tech company Nokia has become the latest company to get rid of a dot-brand gTLD.

It’s asked ICANN to terminate the contract for the IDN .诺基亚 ( .xn--jlq61u9w7b), which is the Chinese transliteration of “Nokia”.

Like .nokia itself, the TLD is not currently in use. Nokia has not asked ICANN to terminate .nokia (or, at least, ICANN has not published such a notice).

Other companies that chose to terminate their Chinese IDNs include Richemont and Volkswagen. In Richemont’s case it was followed by all its other gTLDs.

Bugatti dumps dot-brand under new owners

Kevin Murphy, August 2, 2022, Domain Registries

Bugatti, which makes incredibly expensive limited-edition sports cars, is dropping its dot-brand.

The French company asked ICANN to release it from its .bugatti registry contract about a month ago, according to ICANN documents.

Bugatti entered new ownership last November, under a joint venture between Rimac and Porsche, and recently reportedly underwent a branding overhaul.

It seems the dot-brand had no place under the new marketing strategy.

Its previous owner had been Volkswagen, which still has a (unused) dot-brand, despite dumping its Chinese-script equivalent. But Porsche had been an opponent of the new gTLD program back in 2011.

.bugatti had actually been used, albeit lightly. A couple of live, non-redirecting sites still remain.

Over 100 dot-brands have terminated their contracts to date.

Early “dot-brand” adopter wants to scrap its gTLD

One of the first adopters of the dot-brand gTLD concept, which has an active portfolio of resolving domains, has asked ICANN to tear up its registry contract.

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation said it no longer wishes to operate .cancerresearch, which it has used since 2014.

It’s a bit of a strange, possibly unique, situation, which may explain why its termination request, submitted in April, is only now being published by ICANN.

Technically, .cancerresearch was more like a closed generic than a dot-brand. It did not have a trademark on the string or the Specification 13 exceptions in its registry contract, which would make it a dot-brand.

Instead, ACRF had the TLD delegated, registered a bunch of resolving names to itself, and never officially launched. There was never even a sunrise period.

Pretty significant loophole in the rules for the 2012 application round if you ask me.

But ICANN is treating .cancerresearch as if it was a dot-brand anyway. Because nobody except ACRF ever owned any domains there, there’s no need to transition to a new registry to protect registrants.

This also means nobody else will be able to apply for the same string for two years, assuming an application window opens in that period.

ACRF still has live non-redirecting web sites on domains such as lung.cancerresearch, breast.cancerresearch and donate.cancerresearch.

It’s the first gTLD termination request since last October.

Amazon governments not playing ball with Amazon’s .amazon

Kevin Murphy, June 13, 2022, Domain Policy

Governments in South America are refusing to play nicely with Amazon over its controversial .amazon dot-brand.

Speaking at ICANN 74 in The Hague this morning, Brazil’s representative on the Governmental Advisory Committee said that ICANN’s decision to delegate .amazon to the retail giant a couple of years ago contravenes the multi-stakeholder process and is “incompatible with the expectations and sovereign rights of the Amazon peoples”.

Luciano Mazza de Andrade said that the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, which is membered by the eight governments of the Amazonia region, wrote to Amazon in December to decline an offer to reserve a number of .amazon domains.

Amazon’s contract with ICANN contains a Public Interest Commitment that grants ACTO and its members one usable .amazon domain each, and 1,500 blocks overall for culturally sensitive strings.

The company had given ACTO a December 19 deadline to submit its list of strings, but it seems its members do not acknowledge the contract’s validity.

“Among other points it underlined that ACTO member states did not give consent to the process of adjudication of the .amazon top-level domain and that they did not consider themselves bound by said decision or the conditions attached to it including the above mentioned Public Interest Commitment,” Brazil’s rep said.

He added that “the adjudication of the top-level domain to a private company without our approval and authorization does not respect the applicable rules, expressly contravenes the multistakeholder nature of ICANN’s decision-making process of interest, and is incompatible with the expectations and sovereign rights of the Amazon peoples.”

ACTO has previously described the delegation of .amazon as “illegal and unjust”.

Amazon has a handful of live .amazon domains, which redirect to various services on amazon.com.

CentralNic takes over a dead dot-brand

Kevin Murphy, November 18, 2021, Domain Registries

CentralNic has become the latest company to pounce on a dot-brand gTLD that was on its way to the dustbin of history.

The ICANN contract for .case was transferred to a London company called Helium TLDs, a CentralNic subsidiary, last week.

That company was previously called FANS TLD, and was the vehicle CentralNic used to acquire .fans from Asiamix Digital in 2018 before later passing it on to Hong Kong-based ZDNS International.

I believe something similar is happening here.

.case was a dot-brand owned, but never used, by CNH Industrial, which Wikipedia tells me is an American-Dutch-British-Italian company that makes about $28 billion a year making and selling agricultural and construction machinery. Diggers and forklifts and such.

CNH also managed .caseih, .newholland, and .iveco for some of its other brands, but these contracts were terminated earlier in the year.

The company had also asked ICANN to cancel its .case agreement, but that seems to have attracted acquisitive registry operators, and the termination request was withdrawn as I noted in September.

While terminating a dot-brand can often be seen as a lack of confidence in the dot-brand concept, selling off the gTLD to a third party rules out reapplying for the same string in future and can be seen as an even deeper disdain.

Now, .case is in CentralNic’s hands. I believe it’s the first dot-brand the company has taken over.

Rival registries including Donuts, XYZ and ShortDot have also swept up unwanted dot-brand gTLDs, stripped them of their restrictions, and repurposed them as general-purpose or niche spaces.

CSC (not that one) scraps its dot-brand

Kevin Murphy, November 1, 2021, Domain Registries

A company formerly known as CSC has terminated its dot-brand gTLD contract four years after discontinuing the company name.

Computer Sciences Corporation, now known as DXC Technology, has told ICANN it no longer wishes to operate .csc, saying:

This gTLD was secured right before the merger of Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services merged to form DXC Technology. Consequently, the gTLD has never been used and shutting it down will have no effect on internal or external stakeholders.

The CSC-HP merger and name changed happened in 2017.

At one point, nic.csc bore a notice saying it was the “registry for the .dxc top-level domain”, which was a cool trick given .dxc doesn’t exist and has never existed.

This CSC is different from the corporate registrar of the same abbreviation, where the CSC stands for Corporation Service Company. There’s a reasonable chance that this CSC will be able to apply for .csc in the next application round.

Hold on to your stats! ShortDot gets two gTLDs approved in China

Kevin Murphy, September 28, 2021, Domain Registries

ShortDot, which makes a business repurposing unwanted gTLDs for the budget end of the market, said today it has had two more horses in its stable approved for use in China.

The company said that .bond and .cyou have been given the necessary nods by Chinese authorities.

What this could mean, if history is any guide, is a sharp increase in sales for the two extensions, possibly to the extent that they materially affect overall domain industry volume stats for the next few years.

ShortDot seems to think so, saying in a press release: “Given the massive success of .icu in China, it is quite clear that .bond and .cyou will follow suit to become largely successful.”

.icu currently has about 600,000 names under management, more than half of which are registered via Chinese registrars. Its numbers are on their way down.

At its peak 18 months ago it had more than 10 times as many, about 6.6 million, due to its low pricing and popularity among Chinese speculators.

The sudden rise and wholly predictable precipitous fall of .icu has been messing with overall new gTLD industry stats for the last couple of years. No volume analysis is complete without a .icu-related asterisk.

It’s by no means assured that the same will be true of .cyou and .bond of course.

.cyou, which was originally a dot-brand matching the ticker symbol of a Chinese company, had 118,000 names under management at the end of May and 136,000 in its zone file yesterday.

Names in .cyou can be had for $2 at Namecheap and NameSilo, its top two registrars, which together hold over 70% of the market.

.bond, originally an Australian university’s dot-brand, has fewer than 5,000 names at the last count and retails for about $55 retail at the low end.

Dead dot-brands top 100. Here’s the list and breakdown

Kevin Murphy, September 22, 2021, Domain Registries

The list of dot-brand gTLDs that have had their ICANN registry contracts torn up has now topped 100.

SC Johnson, the big American cleaning products company, has informed the Org it no longer wishes to run .afamilycompany, .duck, .glade, .off, .raid, and .scjohnson.

Regular readers will know that I’ve been keeping a running tally of dot-brand terminations for the last several years, and according to that tally that number is now 101.

But it’s a bit more complex than that, so I thought I’d use the occasion of this milestone to provide a more substantial breakdown.

ICANN has records for 104 dot-brands either being terminated by ICANN or asking to be terminated of their own accord.

The number of registry-initiated termination requests is 90. These are typically gTLDs that were never used, or were experimented with and then abandoned. A smaller number relate to brands that were discontinued following mergers or product end-of-life, rendering the dot-brand pointless.

ICANN initiated the other 14 terminations, mostly because the registry operator got cold feet during the pre-delegation testing phase, before going live, but also in one instance for non-payment of fees and in two cases whatever the hell this is.

Six of the registry-initiated transfer requests were withdrawn before being fully processed. Of those, three (.boots, .mobily, and its Arabic translation) went on to be terminated anyway.

Two registries filed for self-termination then changed their minds and committed auto-genericide by selling their contracts — for .bond and .sbs — to discounting portfolio registry ShortDot instead.

One dot-brand, .case, withdrew its December 2020 termination request and appears to still be active.

Thirteen termination requests are currently in the system but have not yet been fully processed.

Five dot-brand gTLD contracts — .observer, .quest, .monster, .select, .compare — were sold to other registries to be repurposed as open generics. You could add .cyou to that list, depending on how you define a dot-brand.

One gTLD that was originally a generic — .moto — made the move in the other direction to become a dot-brand.

Here’s the list of dot-brands that have either requested a termination, or been terminated.

[table “67” not found /]

Volkswagen drives IDN dot-brand off a cliff

Kevin Murphy, September 13, 2021, Domain Registries

Volkwagen has decided it no longer wishes to run its Chinese-script dot-brand gTLD.

The car-maker’s Chinese arm has asked ICANN to terminate its contract for .大众汽车 (.xn--3oq18vl8pn36a), which has been in the root for five years.

It’s the standard terminating dot-brand story — the gTLD was never used and VW evidently decided it wasn’t needed.

The company also runs .volkswagen, and that’s not used either, but ICANN has yet to publish termination papers for that particular string.

Fellow German car-maker Audi is one of the most prolific users of dot-brands. Its .audi gTLD has over 1,800 registered domains, most of which appear to be used by its licensed dealerships.

.volkwagen is the 95th terminated dot-brand and the seventh terminated internationalized domain name gTLD.