Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

Google abandons its .kid gTLD bid

Kevin Murphy, October 10, 2018, Domain Registries

Google has retreated from the interminable three-way battle for the .kids/.kid gTLDs.
The company this week withdrew its application for .kid, leaving the fight for .kids a two-horse race between Amazon and the not-for-profit DotKids Foundation.
Google’s application was intertwined with the two .kids applications due to a String Confusion Objection, which it won, drawing its bid into contention with DotKids and Amazon.
The contention set was, and arguably still is, due to be settled by an ICANN last-resort auction, but has been repeatedly postponed due to appeals to ICANN by DotKids, which doesn’t think it has the financial clout to beat its rivals.
Most recently, the auction was put on ice again after DotKids asked for ICANN money, then filed a Request for Reconsideration when ICANN refused.
Google’s .kid application had proposed an area for “kid-friendly content”. Registrants would have been vetted in advance of their domains going live to ensure they were established providers of such content.

The .web gTLD could go live in 2016

Kevin Murphy, April 27, 2016, Domain Registries

The new gTLD .web could be coming to the internet sooner than expected after two of the remaining barriers to delegation disappeared.
Following the withdrawal last week of an application for the plural .webs, an auction for .web could happen in the next couple of months, enabling a go-live date possibly in 2016.
.web, often considered the most desirable truly generic gTLD, has had a rough time of it in the 2012 ICANN new gTLD program.
There were seven applications for the string. Google,, Donuts, Radix, Afilias, Schlund Technologies, Nu Dot Co all applied.
The registrar (owner of Network Solutions,, et al) appears to be especially keen to get the domain, given that the string more or less matches its brand.
It perhaps should have been a straightforward auction shoot-out.
But, complicating matters, bespoke printing firm Vistaprint had filed two applications — one vanilla, one “community” based — for the plural version of the string, “.webs”.
Vistaprint runs a website development service called It’s the plural of the brand. wasn’t happy about Vistaprint’s .webs applications, so it filed String Confusion Objections against both, arguing that .web and .webs were too confusingly similar to co-exist on the internet.
While there are now many examples of plurals and singulars living together (see .auto/s, .fan/s and .gift/s), the registrar won both of its SCO complaints, meaning Vistaprint’s two applications and the seven .web applicants were lumped together into the same contention set.
If two strings are in the same contention set, only one can survive to be ultimately delegated to the DNS.
Vistaprint appealed the SCO decisions, first with a Request for Reconsideration to the ICANN board (predictably unsuccessful) and then with an Independent Review Process complaint.
While the IRP was being mulled over, .web was in limbo.
The IRP was unsuccessful. The IRP panel ruled in October that ICANN had not violated its bylaws in accepting the SCO panel’s decision.
But it gave ICANN a nudge, suggesting that perhaps it could give Vistaprint leave to appeal the original SCO determinations via another mechanism.
In early March, the ICANN board proper decided that:

the Vistaprint SCO Expert Determination is not sufficiently “inconsistent” or “unreasonable” such that the underlying objection proceedings resulting in the Expert Determination warrants re-evaluation.

The board said that the .web/.webs contention set should be processed as normal; in other words: go to auction.
That removed the first barrier to the .web/.webs auction going ahead.
The second barrier was the fact that Visaprint had file two applications for .webs — one regular, one “community”.
By self-identifying as a “community”, Vistaprint qualified for the Community Priority Evaluation. A winning CPE means all competing applications — including the .web applications in this case — would be eliminated.
While the CPE process is far from perfect, I think the chances of Vistaprint winning would be pretty slim.
Perhaps Vistaprint agreed with me. Whatever the thought process, the company has withdrawn its “community” application. The withdrawal was reflected on the ICANN web site at the weekend, according to the little birds at DI PRO.
What this means is that the seven .web applications and Vistaprint’s remaining, non-community .webs application will be going to auction together.
It could be a private auction, where the proceeds are divvied up between the losers, or an ICANN “last resort” auction, where ICANN gets all the money.
Either way, the winning bidder is likely to pay a LOT of cash for their chosen string.
GMO Registry paid $41 million for .shop back in January. I’d be flabbergasted if .web wasn’t eight figures too.
If Vistaprint offers to pay more money for .webs than wants to pay for .web, will be eliminated from the race and Vistaprint will get .webs.
In that scenario, the remaining six .web applicants fight it out for control of the gTLD.
However, if Vistaprint loses against then all of the seven .web applicants fight it out at auction.
Depending on the identity of the winner and the timing of auctions and pre-delegation testing, it could slip into the root and possibly even become available before the end of the year.
That’s assuming no more surprises, of course.
UPDATE: This post originally incorrectly described the rules of the .web/.webs auction. It was updated with a correct explanation at 2120 UTC.

AIG withdraws new gTLD bid due to rebrand

Kevin Murphy, February 25, 2013, Domain Registries

The insurance company American International Group has dropped its application for .chartis, apparently due to a merger-related rebranding.
It’s the 21st gTLD application to be withdrawn. Dot-Nxt did the legwork to figure out that the company has pulled out because the .chartis brand itself is being wound up.
When we asked ICANN last week how many bids were in the withdrawal queue, we were told the magic number was three.
Two of those are expected to be .chevy and .buick, which General Motors has confirmed it is withdrawing in addition to its already-gone .chevrolet, .cadillac and .gmc; .chartis is likely the third.
That doesn’t mean it is is the last, however.
Smart dot-brand applicants that are not completely sold on the new gTLD concept will be waiting for the publication of ICANN’s string similarity evaluation panel’s results, currently expected this Friday, before making their calls.
The string similarity results will go a long way to determine whether certain strings will have potentially lethal problems being applied for in future application rounds.
If .gmc had have been ruled confusingly similar to .gmo, for example, that may have reduced GM’s chances of successfully applying for .gmc in future rounds.

.transformers gTLD bid transforms into pile of burnt cash

Kevin Murphy, February 20, 2013, Domain Registries

Toy-maker Hasbro has withdrawn its application for the .transformers new gTLD.
It was Hasbro’s only application, and it’s the first example of an applicant that paid to participate in ICANN’s new gTLD prioritization draw last December subsequently withdrawing its bid.
One of the longer and more eyebrow-raising applied-for strings, .transformers brings the number of withdrawn applications to 18, most of which were dot-brands. Now, 1,912 bids remain.
The bid had a prioritization number of 131, putting it toward the very top of the queue of non-IDN applications.
If many more applications with high prioritization numbers withdraw, it would raise serious questions about the validity of the argument that participating in the draw indicates a non-defensive bid.
Hasbro’s application suggested that it was filed mainly defensively, it’s “Mission/Purpose” stated as primarily: “To secure and protect the Applicant’s key brand (“TRANSFORMERS”) as a gTLD”.
Maybe it was worried that an electrical parts manufacturer might go for the same string?
It’s the sixth application to be withdrawn in a week, following General Motors’ pulling of its .gmc, .cadillac and .chevrolet bids and Hartford Fire Insurance’s withdrawal of .thehartford.
UPDATE (February 20): ICANN tells me that there are currently only three more new gTLD applications in its withdrawal pipeline.