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Pile up! GM cancels two more new gTLD bids

Kevin Murphy, February 19, 2013, Domain Policy

Is General Motors bowing out of ICANN’s new gTLD program completely? It’s certainly looking that way, following the withdrawal of two more of its five original applications.
ICANN updated its site yesterday to reflect that GM has yanked its bids for .chevrolet and .cadillac, two of its proposed automotive dot-brands.
It comes just a few days after its .gmc application was pulled, and suggests that its remaining applications — for .buick and .chevy — may also be withdrawn in the near future.
The total number of gTLD applications withdrawn is now up to 17, a dozen of which are dot-brands, from an original list of 1,930.
We may be seeing more in the near future. Applications withdrawn before ICANN publishes Initial Evaluation results — expected to start March 23 — qualify for a refund of 70%, or $130,000. After that, the refund halves.
The final number of withdrawn applications will be telling, and likely to inform future new gTLD application rounds.
If it turns out a large number of companies applied for dot-brands purely defensively (I wouldn’t consider 12 to 17 withdrawals a large number) then ICANN may have to rethink how the program is structured.

Two more dot-brand gTLD bids withdrawn

Kevin Murphy, February 18, 2013, Domain Registries

Two applications for “dot-brand” new gTLDs were pulled last week.
General Motors has withdrawn its bid for .gmc and Hartford Fire Insurance Company dropped .thehartford.
Both bids had been assigned priority numbers in ICANN’s prioritization draw last December, but neither applicant had purchased tickets, suggesting a lack of interest in operating the TLDs.
The withdrawal of .gmc at this time, less than two weeks before the publication by ICANN of string similarity evaluation results, is particularly interesting, and a little strategically puzzling.
There’s an active application by GMO Internet for .gmo, which could conceivably be ruled confusingly visually similar to .gmc.
By pulling out now, GM has lost its right to file a string similar challenge at a later date, and may have lost its ability to win .gmc in all future application rounds too (if .gmo is approved this time around, GMO could claim confusing similarity against future .gmc bids).
But GM still has active bids for the much more meaningful .chevrolet, .buick, .chevy and .cadillac, all of which also have prioritization numbers suggesting GM mainly applied defensively.
Hartford’s .thehartford was its only application.
The two withdrawals bring the total to date to 15, at least 10 of which were dot-brands. There are now 1,915 applications still in play.
The new gTLD consultants involved in the withdrawn bids — which one assumes were mostly filed defensively based on advice received — are a fairly mixed bunch so far.