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4 new TLD applications withdrawn

September 5, 2012.ksb, Domaining, Domainnamewire, google, new tlds, new top level domains, UncategorizedComments Off on 4 new TLD applications withdrawn

Google and one .brand applicant withdraw applications.

Kudos to Michele Neylon for spotting an option on ICANN’s web site to see which new top level domain name applications have been withdrawn.

Thus far four applications have been withdrawn, including three by Google.

The three by Google should not come as a huge surprise. ICANN Senior VP Kurt Pritz previously announced that three application had been withdrawn, and you can thank Kevin Murphy for that. Murphy earlier reported that three Google applications wouldn’t be accepted, and later surmised that Google accounted for the three applications Pritz referred to. (Something tells me Google won’t send a check to Murphy for his assistance.)

Google withdrew applications for .and, .are, and .est, all of which are protected three-letter country codes.

The fourth withdrawn application is a brand application for .ksb by KSB Aktiengesellschaft. Frankly, I don’t see any reason that the company needs the .ksb top level domain. It already owns KSB.com.

I reached out to KSB’s consultant on its application, which declined to comment.


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One person submits 467 comments on new top level domain applications

August 1, 2012Domaining, Domainnamewire, new tlds, new top level domains, UncategorizedComments Off on One person submits 467 comments on new top level domain applications

That’s a whole lot of work.

If you visit the new top level domain comments site today, you’re going to be doing quite a big of pagination before you see any unique comments.

That’s because one person — a trademark manager at Sunkist Growers, Inc. — has submitted a whopping 467 comments on individual applications.

They’re all the same comment. But this must have taken some serious time given how cumbersome it apparently is to submit comments.

The comments are about adding rights protections to the proposed top level domain names.

Although 467 identical comments is a lot, I give the submitter credit for not just submitting the same comment on all 2,000 application. They appear to be targeted only to applications that don’t have added rights mechanisms. It even applauds a few registries for their added efforts at protecting trademark holder rights:

“…Such additional mechanisms may include, but are not limited to, the blocking mechanism put in place by ICM Registry for the launch of the .XXX gTLD, the blocking mechanism proposed by Uniregistry, Corp. in its gTLD applications, or the Domain Protected Marks List (DPML) proposed by Donuts, Inc. and DMIH Limited in each organizations’ respective gTLD applications.”

To date there have been 1,806 public comments on top level domain applications, but most of them are form submissions in support of particular applicants or opposed to particular strings.


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Just how much do new top level domains cost, anyway?

July 24, 2012Domaining, Domainnamewire, icann fees, new top level domains, registry fees, UncategorizedComments Off on Just how much do new top level domains cost, anyway?

Confusing ICANN fee structure for new top level domains.

The headline number for new top level domains is $185,000, the price of submitting an application.

But domain registries also pay ongoing fees to ICANN each quarter. Amazingly, what exactly those fees are is up for debate.

Here’s the full text of section 6.1 on the registry contract new TLD operators will have to enter into:

Registry Fixed Fee of US$6,250 per calendar quarter and (ii) the Registry-Level Transaction Fee. The Registry-Level Transaction Fee will be equal to the number of annual increments of an initial or renewal domain name registration (at one or more levels, and including renewals associated with transfers from one ICANN-accredited registrar to another, each a “Transaction”), during the applicable calendar quarter multiplied by US$0.25; provided, however that the Registry-Level Transaction Fee shall not apply until and unless more than 50,000 Transactions have occurred in the TLD during any calendar quarter or any four calendar quarter period (the “Transaction Threshold”) and shall apply to each Transaction that occurred during each quarter in which the Transaction Threshold has been met, but shall not apply to each quarter in which the Transaction Threshold has not been met. Registry Operator shall pay the Registry-Level Fees on a quarterly basis by the 20th day following the end of each calendar quarter (i.e., on April 20, July 20, October 20 and January 20 for the calendar quarters ending March 31, June 30, September 30
and December 31) of the year to an account designated by ICANN.

If you read that paragraph and are a bit confused, you’re not alone. I reached out to several new TLD applicants for clarification on the fees. There was disagreement — and some befuddlement — amongst them. But perhaps by walking through it here we can crowdsource what the fees actually are.

What is clear is there are two fees: a fixed fee and a transaction fee.

The fixed fee is $6,250 per calendar quarter. This is the “$25,000 a year ongoing cost” you keep hearing about.

Now read the long sentence about the transaction fees again:

The Registry-Level Transaction Fee will be equal to the number of annual increments of an initial or renewal domain name registration (at one or more levels, and including renewals associated with transfers from one ICANN-accredited registrar to another, each a “Transaction”), during the applicable calendar quarter multiplied by US$0.25; provided, however that the Registry-Level Transaction Fee shall not apply until and unless more than 50,000 Transactions have occurred in the TLD during any calendar quarter or any four calendar quarter period (the “Transaction Threshold”) and shall apply to each Transaction that occurred during each quarter in which the Transaction Threshold has been met, but shall not apply to each quarter in which the Transaction Threshold has not been met.

Let’s break that down:

1. There’s a transaction fee of 25 cents for each “annual increment of an initial or renewal domain name registration”. What’s not entirely clear is if these fees are front loaded. For example, if someone registers a domain for 10 years, is that ten annual increments that must be paid upfront? It sure seems that way. (It’s worth pointing out that you can hit the 50,000 transaction threshold without 50,000 domains registered.)

2. The transaction fee only applies when 50,000 transactions have occurred in a specific time period. But the time period is really confusing to me:

“during any calendar quarter or any four calendar quarter period (the “Transaction Threshold”)”

Hmm. So if you hit 50,000 transactions in a quarter then you definitely pay. Yet does the transaction fee also kick in if I reach 50,000 transactions in a “four calendar quarter period”, i.e. a rolling year? It appears that way…until you read the next part of the sentence:

“[The fee] shall apply to each Transaction that occurred during each quarter in which the Transaction Threshold has been met, but shall not apply to each quarter in which the Transaction Threshold has not been met.”

So then if you reach 50,000 transactions in a “four calendar quarter period”, the transaction fee actually won’t apply if you don’t reach the threshold in a single quarter. That seems to cancel out the reference about a four quarter period.

Next issue: I don’t see anywhere in here where it says the transaction fee is in place of the fixed fee.

So that means when you make your 50,000th transaction in a quarter you suddenly pay a transaction fee on all 50,000 of those transactions. You’d be better off with 49,999 transactions because the 50,000th one will cost you a whopping $12,500!

There’s also a “variable registry-level fee” (section 6.3) that seems to be an insurance policy for ICANN if future registrar accreditation agreements do not include variable registrar fees.

I reached out to ICANN’s PR for clarification yesterday but didn’t hear back. I’m sure someone somewhere understands exactly how these fees work, but they certainly need to clean up and clarify the language.


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Domain horse trading event in Prague next week

June 18, 2012Domaining, Domainnamewire, icann prague, new top level domains, UncategorizedComments Off on Domain horse trading event in Prague next week

You can have .app if I can have .cloud.

I talked to Top Level Domain Holdings (TLDH) Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush about 15 minutes after ICANN’s “big reveal” news conference ended last week. He told me he had already received an email from another applicant for a TLD that TLDH had applied for, saying basically “let’s talk”.

And that’s a lot of the talking that will be going on at next week’s ICANN meeting in Prague. Competitors who applied for identical or similar strings will hold backroom meetings to try to hash out deals in an effort to avoid a costly auction.

There will also be a lot of bluffing going on in this high stakes game of poker.

Should you take your application off the table now and get most of your money back from ICANN in return for a payoff or a cut of the action? Or should you tell the other party you’re willing to spend millions in an auction for the domain to try to up the stakes?

Does it make sense to abandon one of your applications if the other party agrees to abandon one of its own that is contested with you?

It gets even more complicated if a string has three or more applications. Or try 13. Or if Google or Amazon is one of the applicants.

Also don’t be surprised if tensions get really high at the meeting. Before, everyone had a common enemy in ICANN. Now they are enemies with each other.


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Amazon.com won’t offer domain names to the public

June 14, 2012amazon.com, Domaining, Domainnamewire, new top level domains, Policy & LawComments Off on Amazon.com won’t offer domain names to the public

Amazon.com intends to only offer domain registrations to itself.

Amazon.com has applied for 76 top level domain names. But don’t expect to be able to register any second level domains underneath them.

I just reviewed eight of the company’s applications, and each one has similar language explaining who can register a second level domain under them: only Amazon.com and its subsidiaries.

…Amazon and its subsidiaries will be the only eligible registrants…

Now I can certainly see how this would be the case for something like .fire, since Fire is one of Amazon’s brands.

And I can sort of see how this makes sense with something like .cloud, or even .app, since they are big market opportunities for the company.

But .wow? .play? .free? .kids?

The good news for trademark holders is that, if Amazon gets these top level domains, they won’t have to worry about paying to block their marks. Because only Amazon.com can register them anyway.

29.1.1 Rights protection in gTLD registry operation is a core objective of Amazon
We will closely manage this TLD by registering domains through a single registrar. Although Amazon and its subsidiaries will be the only eligible registrants, we will nonetheless require our registrar to work with us on a four-step registration process featuring: (i) Eligibility Confirmation; (ii) Naming Convention Check; (iii) Acceptable Use Review; and (iv) Registration. As stated in our answer to Question 18, all domains in our registry will remain the property of Amazon and will be provisioned to support the business goals of Amazon. Because all domains will be registered and maintained by Amazon (for use that complements our strategic business goals), we can ensure that all domains in our registries will carry accurate and up-to-date registration records. We believe that the above registration process will ensure that abusive registrations are prevented, but we will continue to monitor ICANN policy developments, and update our procedures as required.

29.2 Core measures to prevent abusive registrations
To further prevent abusive registration or cybersquatting, we will adopt the following Rights Protection Mechanisms (RPMs) which have been mandated for new gTLD operators by ICANN:
• A 30 day Sunrise process
• A 60 day Trademark Claims process

Generally, these RPMs are targeted at abusive registrations undertaken by third parties. However, domains in our registry will be registered only to Amazon or its subsidiaries through a single registrar who will be contractually required to ensure that stated rules covering eligibility and use of a domain are adhered to through a validation process. As a result, abusive registrations should be prevented.
In the very unlikely circumstances that a domain is registered and used in an improper way, we acknowledge that we will be the respondent in related proceedings and we undertake to co-operate fully with ICANN and other appropriate agencies to resolve any concerns.
29.2.1 Sunrise Eligibility
Our Sunrise Eligibility Requirements will clearly state that eligible applicants must be members of the Amazon group of companies and its subsidiaries. Furthermore, all domain names must be used to support the business goals of Amazon. Nonetheless, notice of our Sunrise will be provided to third party holders of validated trademarks in the Trademark Clearinghouse as required by ICANN. Our Sunrise Eligibility Requirements will be published on the website of our registry.

Want to file a UDRP against a second level domain controlled by Amazon? The company wants an exemption from standard rules. The only remedy it says will be cancellation, not transfer of the domain to the complainant, since only Amazon.com can register the domains.

Perhaps Amazon is going this route to make the applications easier. It does use the term “initially” in its application when discussing only a minimal number of domains being registered.

But I’m a bit shocked by the company’s plans. It effectively removes a large swathe of the new namespace from public consumption.


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New TLDs include at least four contested .brand applications

June 14, 2012.brand, Domaining, Domainnamewire, new top level domains, UncategorizedComments Off on New TLDs include at least four contested .brand applications

Companies battle each other for rights to top level domains.

I’ve identified at least four cases of contested .brand top level domain applications, defined here as a case where two different brand holders are going after the same top level domain.

.Monster – Monster, Inc. vs. Monster Worldwide, Inc. The former sells really expensive cables and other audiophile products, the later runs job boards.

.SAS – Research IP LLC vs. SAS AB. This is a battle I expected after the latter announced its plans. The first is SAS Institute, which owns SAS.com. The latter is Scandinavian airline SAS.

.Guardian – Guardian Life Insurance Company vs. Guardian News and Media – given who the second company is, this battle might get a bit of press.

.Merck – Merck KGaA vs. Merck Registry Holdings, Inc. – At first I thought this was a case of one company filing multiple applications from different departments. But I’m told they are two distinct companies.

Of course, some of the other .brand applications may be contested by generic applications. Apple won’t have any competition for .apple, though.

Have you spotted any others?


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Google and Amazon compete on 21 new top level domain applications

June 13, 2012amazon, Domaining, Domainnamewire, google, new top level domains, UncategorizedComments Off on Google and Amazon compete on 21 new top level domain applications

Google and Amazon had a lot of the same ideas for new top level domains.

One of the biggest battles over new top level domains will pit internet heavyweights Google and Amazon against each other.

Amazon applied for 76 top level domains and Google applied for 101 top level domains. But I count 20 — and perhaps 21 — domain names that the two will have to duke it out for.

Here’s the list of domains that both companies applied for:

.App
.Book
.Cloud
.Dev
.Drive
.Free
.Game
.Kid/.Kids
.Mail
.Map
.Movie
.Music
.Play
.Search
.Shop
.Show
.Spot
.Store
.Talk
.Wow
.You

And although it’s not as similar to .kid and .kids, Amazon applied for .news and Google applied for .new. (It seems like it should be the other way around, shouldn’t it?)

Many of these are also contested by other applicants. .App has 13 applications, for example.

For some domains it’s possible these two will whittle it down to just themselves and then do horse trading — i.e. you take .search I’ll take .shop.

Or we could see some very expensive auctions…

[Updated to add .dev, which I missed the first time around.]


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Demand Media’s 26 TLDs hit the armed forces, democrats, and republicans

June 13, 2012Demand Media, Domain Registrars, Domaining, Domainnamewire, eNom, new top level domains, United TLDComments Off on Demand Media’s 26 TLDs hit the armed forces, democrats, and republicans

Demand Media applies for 26 domain names — and some of them are very interesting.

Publicly traded Demand Media, parent company of domain registrar eNom, has applied for 26 top level domain names through (what appears to be) a subsidiary called United TLD Holdco Ltd.

The company also has a deal to share in up to 107 top level domains applied for by Donuts, Inc.

Demand Media’s list is interesting. Of course, it didn’t want to conflict with Donuts, Inc. on any applications. The only one I see close would be .fishing (Donuts has applied for .fish).

The company went after the armed forces market with .airforce, .army, and .navy. I suppose you could add .ninja to that list. Although these aren’t trademarked, it will be interesting if any governments object to these.

Here’s the full list:

ACTOR
AIRFORCE
ARMY
BAR
CAM
DANCE
DEMOCRAT
ENGINEER
FISHING
GAY
GIVES
GREEN
IMMOBILIEN
KAUFEN
MAP
MODA
MOM
MOTO
NAVY
NINJA
PUB
REHAB
REPUBLICAN
RIP
SOCIAL
WOW


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Directi applies for 31 top level domains

May 31, 2012bhavin turakhia, directi, Domaining, Domainnamewire, new top level domains, radix registry, UncategorizedComments Off on Directi applies for 31 top level domains

Radix, a Directi company, makes big investment in top level domains.

Directi Group (see disclosure) announced today that is has applied for 31 top level domain names through its new company Radix. I believe this makes it one of the biggest “portfolio” applicants for new TLDs.

The company has committed over $30 million to the new top level domain business.

In a press release, Directi co-founder Bhavin Turakhia said:

Today’s internet addresses are uncategorized and say nothing about the website. In addition, it is near impossible to find available names that are short and memorable. Our research shows that over 65% of users are unable to find a name of their choice. We welcome the opportunity to usher in an era where internet addresses distinguish a plumber from a lawyer and domain names with hyphens are a thing of the past.

Here is the list of applications:

.web
.shop
.bank
.law
.music
.news
.blog
.movie
.baby
.store
.doctor
.hotel
.play
.home
.site
.website
.click
.online
.one
.ping
.space
.world
.press
.chat
.city
.deals
.insurance
.loans
.app
.host
.hosting

[Disclosure: I work with Directi's online advertising businesses including Media.net. I have not been involved in the company's new top level domain program and just today became aware of the strings the company is applying for.]


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Google announces top level domain applications including .lol, .docs

May 31, 2012Domaining, Domainnamewire, google, new top level domains, UncategorizedComments Off on Google announces top level domain applications including .lol, .docs

Vint Cerf releases some details about company’s new TLD strategy.

Google today announced limited details about some of its top level domain applications.

The announcement fittingly came from former ICANN Chairman and current Google Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf.

Cerf said the TLDs the company applied for fall into four categories:

1. Trademarks, e.g. .google

2. Domains related to core businesses, e.g. .docs

3. Domains “that will improve user experience, e.g. .youtube (I’m not sure why that doesn’t match trademarks as well)

4. Other general domains, e.g. .lol

Cerf also reiterated that Google wants “to make the introduction of new generic TLDs a good experience for web users and site owners”, but in a different context than the search engine. The context was as a registry, including providing rights protection mechanisms.

I wonder if .search is one of the “core business” domains for which it applied?

I reached out to Google for comment on additional domains. Unsurprisingly, they said they aren’t commenting further at this time. But AdAge reports the company applied for over 50 TLDs.


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