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ICANN CEO: Until the first new gTLD is Delegated, Akram Attalah & I Will Personally Oversee the Whole New gTLD Program

November 17th, 2012 Comments off

According to a blog post by the CEO of ICANN Fadi Chehadé, he and Akram Attalah will “personally oversee the whole new gTLD program until the 1st new gTLD is delegated.

This comes only days after Kurt Pritz who was heading up the new gTLD program resigned from ICANN due to a still undisclosed conflict of interest.

The rest of the blog post was on his meeting he had this past week on the Trademark Clearinghouse and its associated rights protection mechanisms.

Its clear from the post that the both the Trademark Clearinghouse and its associated rights protection mechanisms for new gTLD’s are still not settled.

“”We will have follow-up informational calls in November with the group to do three things.

(1) Review any additional feedback from the stakeholder groups,

(2) Convey staff’s view on a path forward on some or all elements of the strawman solution, and

(3) Convey additional details on the Trademark Clearinghouse contracts.”"

We are now firmly focused on moving forward with Trademark Clearinghouse implementation to ensure that the New gTLD Program is launched in accordance with our targets.”

Next, I will focus on URS and RAA.”"

 …

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Guest Post: Clarifying Clarifying Financial Questions: What New gTLD Applicants Need To Do To Pass Evaluation

November 16th, 2012 Comments off

This is a guest post by Phil Buckingham, CEO Dot Advice Ltd.

Mr Buckingham was involved at the start of the DNS in the UK in 1995, as CFO of Netnames, the pioneering corporate domain portfolio registrar.

Mr Buckingham  was involved in the Financial Evaluation process, served on ICANN’s GNSO Vertical Integration WG. Dot Advice Ltd provides applicant advice and develops fully integrated gTLD financial models, utilising the new vertical integrated market and SRSU brand models.

Here is the post:

It is certainly proving to be a long and winding road for the 1923 gTLD applications submitted to ICANN. Glitches, delays and now a very high percentage of applications will very shortly be receiving clarifying (financial) questions on 26 November. Currently a very high percentage of applicants have not scored the required 8 points to pass financial evaluation. This is the next huge challenge for applicants. Critical business decisions will need to be made by applicants to ensure they pass the Initial Evaluation. Undoubtedly it will cause further delays, and fundamentally impact directly and indirectly on other applicant business decisions, especially those in contention sets, which will be announced shortly.

There are seven evaluator panels. Financial, Technical, Geographic Names, String Similarity, Registry Services, DNS Stability. Each panel could issue clarifying questions.

Also there were over 11,000 comments. These were directed to appropriate panels. These could cause a clarifying question if a comment has the potential to change the score of an application.

Having been involved via an ICANN EOI (2009-2011) in the financial evaluation process, fully expecting to be a financial evaluator until conflicts of interest ruled out this opportunity I have taken a great interest in the roll out of ICANN financial evaluation process. Subsequently we have developed fully integrated gTLD models, over and and above ICANN financial model templates. I was an applicant for . royal, on behalf of the UK Royal Family. We subsequently decided not to apply.  Did we make the right decision?

A new gTLD update session at the recent  ICANN Toronto  meeting revealed some interesting and quite frankly alarming results based on the those applications part/ full processed by the financial evaluators.

ICANN and the evaluators have stated they were “surprised “by the scale of the clarifying questions that will be issued.

The Initial evaluation of 1930 applications (7 have since withdrawn) revealed as of 15 October 1114 application assigned to the financial evaluation panel.…

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BusinessWeek Becomes Lastest Publication To Raise Concern Over Donuts & Demand

November 5th, 2012 Comments off

Donuts, Inc.,  the largest applicant under ICANN’s new gTLD program has just been covered again by a major publication, this time by  BusinessWeek.com in a story entitled:

Donuts’ Grab for Domains Raises Fears of Cybersquatting

“Stoler, the McCarter & English lawyer, said in his July letter to Icann that Donuts has clear links to Demand Media and its subsidiaries, which have received more than two dozen “bad- faith” rulings from Icann-recognized dispute panels.”

“”Examples of bad-faith actions include buying a domain name to block a rival that might have previously used the name as a trademark or using a domain to deliberately mislead consumers into thinking they’re on a different site. While cybersquatting is illegal under U.S. trademark law, courts often defer to Icann tribunals because many cases involve foreign parties.”

“The allegations have been made fairly publicly by a wide range of organizations,” said David Weslow, a partner with Wiley Rein LLP specializing in Internet intellectual property. “If the allegations are true, the concern would be the prior actions of those other companies would be indicative of how the Donuts group may operate,” he said.

Weslow said he represents businesses bidding for TLDs, though none in direct contention with Donuts.

“Stoler declined to comment to Bloomberg News and wouldn’t say if any of his clients are competing with Donuts to own new TLDs”

“The chief executive officer of Donuts used to run Demand Media, and Donuts has an arrangement to sell Demand Media 107 of its TLDs if it chooses to release them.”

“Donuts and its key executives are, by Icann’s established eligibility guidelines, unsuited and ineligible to participate,” Jeffrey Stoler, a lawyer with McCarter & English LLP, wrote in a July letter to Icann, which manages the architecture of the Web. “Icann can and should reject the applications from Donuts and its subsidiaries, Demand Media and its subsidiaries, and their respective affiliated companies.”

The story quotes Brian Jacobs, founder and general partner of San Mateo, California- based Emergence Capital Partners, a Donuts backer to say:

Donuts and Demand Media are distinct companies with no equity relationship, and Donuts is “100 percent qualified” to be a TLD registry, said.

Jonathon Nevett, one of Donuts’ four founders is quoted as saying:

The company is bidding for so many TLDs because domain-name expansion is long overdue”

“When you do something bold and large, sometimes you put a target on your back,” he said.…

Right Of The Dot™ Teams up with Escrow.com™ To Provide Neutral Auction & Mediation Resolution for gTLD String Contention

November 1st, 2012 Comments off

According to a Press Release out today RightOfTheDot ,LLC, announced their independent private auction resolution and mediation services for competing gTLD applicants.

“”Hot on the heels of ICANN’s welcome announcement of the drawing process, Right Of The Dot is launching a private auction and mediation service to accelerate the process of settling claims between applicants for the same new gTLD string, in turn reducing the time it takes for new gTLDs to go live. Right Of The Dot has been granted a special Auction License, which specifically allows them to conduct TLD Auction Services for new gTLDs.

To further support new gTLD applicants in their auction process, ROTD has secured an exclusive partnership with Escrow.com for the escrowing of funds for the deposits and distributions of funds for TLD auctions. With a consistent A+ rating with the BBB, Escrow.com has been voted the Best Domain Escrow Service for the past 5 years; is the only fully licensed online escrow provider in the United States and has processed over $1 Billion dollars in transactions.  This unique partnership will enable Right of the Dot to offer applicants many financial options such as interest bearing accounts, so their escrowed funds can earn interest over any given period.

“Escrow.com is extremely proud to be working as a partner with Right Of The Dot, “ said Escrow.com President and Managing Director, Brandon Abbey.  “We have known the principals for many years and admire their work. ROTD has clearly embraced innovation and we look forward to helping them succeed in this very exciting business venture.”

Right Of The Dot’s combined knowledge, experience and success over their 29 years in the industry, includes conducting tens of thousands of auctions and hundreds of millions of dollars in domain related transactions, both live and online. Utilizing their unique perspective and neutrality, they offer valuable success fee-based mediation and partnership brokering to contentious applicants as a first option in an effort to avoid auction altogether. When auction is the only solution, ROTD offer new gTLD applicants guidance on how to best mitigate risk vs. reward through the auction process.

Right Of The Dot auction fees are competitive, starting at 4% depending on the auction type, number of applicants for a particular extension, and the amount of the winning bid.

 The Right Of The Dot auction model would see auction proceeds paid back to the auction participants rather than to ICANN.

TLDH: Turning Point Has Been Reached For New gTLD Program & Some Registries Will Be Revenue Producing In 2013

October 31st, 2012 Comments off

According to a press release just issued by Top Level Domain Holdings (TLDH) “a turning point has been reached for the timetable for the implementation of the new generic top level domain (“gTLD”) program.” and they expect that certain new registries “are likely to be revenue producing in 2013.”

“The first contracts or delegations are expected to be concluded following the next ICANN meeting in Beijing in the second week of April 2013. ”

“ICANN’s proposal will give priority to internationalized domain names (“IDNs”), including  (“dot shopping” in Chinese characters), for which TLDH is the sole applicant preference

Members of ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee have made clear their intention to push for the prioritization of geographic gTLD applications, of which TLDH has several, including .LONDON.

Provided that the ICANN proposed timetable is broadly adhered to, the Board of TLDH believes that a number of the Group’s 17 uncontested gTLD applications on its own behalf and the 5 uncontested client gTLD applications are likely to be revenue producing in 2013, with the balance becoming so in the first half of 2014.

TLDH has commenced discussions with the leading worldwide registrars, premium name specialists, and secondary market platforms for distribution of these gTLD names.

TLDH is also working with other gTLD applicant groups to define formats for private auctions and other name resolution arrangements in respect of the contested names that TLDH has applied for.”

“The Board expects that these auctions are likely to happen in the second half of 2013.”

“Following the draw in December, when TLDH will learn the priority order of its gTLD applications, the Company’s registry business, Minds + Machines, plans to expand its operational team.”

“The Board has reviewed a number of possible locations for Minds + Machines operational centre and currently plans to base its core of activities in Dublin, Ireland, to support its geographic and generic gTLDs. ”

“In advance of the development of Minds + Machines European operations, the Board expects to make a number of new appointments, including further appointments of both executive and non-executive directors, to enhance and develop the Group’s capabilities.

“As a first step in this process, Caspar von Veltheim, who has been responsible for TLDH’s continental European applications in respect of .NRW and .BAYERN, will, on completion of satisfactory regulatory checks in compliance with the AIM Rules, join the Board of TLDH as an executive director with responsibility for Europe.…

Registrars Come Out Against Additional Rights Protections Policy Changes For New gTLD’s

October 26th, 2012 Comments off

In a letter sent by the Registrar Stakeholder Group to ICANN, today, the group has come out against making any additional changes to the Rights Protection Mechanisms (RPM) for trademark holders in the new gTLD’s.

The letter was sent by the Chair of the Registrar Stakeholder Group Matt Serlin who wrote in part:

“”We also understand various parties are advocating for the inclusion of additional Rights Protection Mechanisms (RPMs), in excess of what is currently in the Guidebook. We are extremely concerned about this development at such a late stage in the program.

The community spent years developing and building consensus for the current set of new RPMs for new gTLDs, and these will represent a significant increase to what currently exist in today’s gTLDs. Any effort to revisit the discussion of RPMs – particularly outside policy development processes meant to provide predictability to contracted parties should be done after the gTLD program (with its agreed-upon RPMs) has been implemented and the effectiveness of the new RPMs can be evaluated.

Additionally, we believe the additional RPMs circulated in Toronto represent a change to the policy and not the implementation of the TMCH. In our conversations with you, there was a clear distinction in your mind between the two and we would certainly agree with your assessment that policy and implementation be considered separately. The Policy Development Process exists to tackle community-wide issues by assembling a group of people from different stakeholder groups who can come together and work to resolve or lessen problems. Policy changes should not be pursued by a single interest group working directly with ICANN Staff. Doing so would in fact jeopardize, if not outright ignore, the significant implementation issues involved.

Based on the RPMs in the Guidebook, registrars and registry operators have created product and business plans around those mechanisms, and to change those at this late date would have a significant impact on those plans. Moving forward with a change to the RPMs could further negatively impact reliance on the ICANN policy development process.”"

 …

The Future Of Geo Domains: Chicago.com Makes $125K In 1st Year Of Selling SubDomains & Email Addresses

October 20th, 2012 Comments off

I had a chance to sit down with Josh Metnick who owns Chicago.com and started selling subdomains & email addresses ending in Chicago.com.

In the first year, sales of subdomains and vanity email addresses using Chicago.com generated some $125,000 in revenue with virtually no marketing.

Josh shared the numbers with TheDomains.com exclusively:

“”Chicago.com is going well — our first year sales were approximately $125,000, but it’s recurring high-margin revenue. ”

“First batch of yearly renewals came up — and the renewal rate was actually higher than 100%, which is interesting. ”

“What that means — is that during the renewal process, our existing customers not only renewed, but they placed additional orders– significantly more than we lost. ”

“I believe we lost five customers total in 14 months or so.  ”

“We are targeting around $250,000+ next year, maybe more if we do a deal with a local media partner.”

“Our marketing budget for the first year was around $5,000, so we will be putting more into it and also doing a large drive for Cyber-Monday, as roughly 50% of our sales are given as gifts, we didn’t see that.”

“Another thing we did not see was Spanish language names.”

“Chicago is roughly 30% Hispanic.”

“We sold lawyer@chicago.com, and then the same firm, which has attorneys who specialize in Spanish-speaking clients, bought abogado@chicago.com — so this again is taking us in another, unexpected direction.”

“We sold Parking.Chicago.com and Parking@Chicago.com to one of the largest VC-based “Hotels.com” for parking companies– Spot Hero, to help create a portal for Chicago parking.  Lawyer.Chicago.com will be launching soon.”

“A domainer bought limos.chicago.com and limos@chicago.com (we bundle the subdomain and the email) for investment purposes, we have had some of those.”

Josh confirmed that the system he developed has spread to other Geo domains including:

Neworleans.com;  they just went live about two weeks ago, but cannot reveal sales numbers there, they are ramping up.

Nashville.com; they are live but it is not being promoted, so we are in the process of re-doing all of the direct marketing efforts.

Telaviv.com; This went live a little while ago, we have something like 50+ Israeli city.com’s on the system, these names have been selling, as well Jerusalem.net, we have been selling emails.  Pricing is more simplified on this system, we are testing different price points.

“”We’ve sold several thousand dollars worth but officially just launched that site today actually.”

Even smaller US cities are signing up and seeing results.…

GNSO IP Constituency Sends Letter To ICANN WIth Changes Of Right Protections For New gTLD’s

October 17th, 2012 Comments off

ICANN just posted a letter sent from the President of the GNSO Intellectual Property Constituency to ICANN of it’s “Consensus Position of
Business Constituency and Intellectual Property Constituency” for changes for the new gTLD program

 

  1. Extend Sunrise Launch Period from 30 to 60 days with a standardized process.
  2. Extend the TMCH and Claims Notices for an indefinite period; ensure the process is easy to use, secure, and stable.
  3. Complete the URS as a low cost alternative and improve its usefulness – if necessary, ICANN could underwrite for an initial period.
  4. Implement a mechanism for trademark owners to prevent second-level registration of their marks (exact matches, plus character strings previously determined to have been abusively registered or used) across all registries, upon payment of a reasonable fee, with appropriate safeguards for registrants with a legitimate right or interest.
  5. Validate contact information for registrants in WHOIS.
  6. All registrars active in new gTLD registrations must adhere to an amended RAA for all gTLD registrations they sponsor.
  7. Enforce compliance of all registry commitments for Standard applications.
  8. Expand TM Claims service to cover at least strings previously found to have been abusively registered or used.
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ICANN On New gTLD’s: “No Contracts Will be Executed or Delegations Made Before the Beijing Meeting”

October 15th, 2012 Comments off

At the ICANN Meeting today Kurt Pritz who is in charge of the new gTLD program laid out a timeline for the new gTLD program.

“In December, we’re going to hold this prioritization drawing.

This drawing will prioritize the applications, meaning it will be the order in which applications are released and then processed through the rest of the evaluation.

So the ability to choose the form agreement as your form of contract, to select an appointment and to go through predelegation testing and then, finally, go to delegation will be determined by this drawing number.

That drawing will occur in December.

The first initial evaluation results will be published in March, so this advances the schedule for publishing any evaluation results.

We were going to publish all the evaluation results in June or July by prioritizing the applications, this allows us to pull forward and release some of the evaluation results early.

And then we’ll continually publish evaluation results in lots, i will not say “batches,” in lots, weekly lots, say every time, say every Friday at 5:00 or something like that we’ll publish a set of applications.

The objection period around which anyone can object, anyone with standing can object to an application, will close just before the initial evaluations are posted. So that objection period will last nine months, and then it will end on march 13th.

Now, it’s important to note for reasons we will go through in other session that is no contracts will be executed or delegations be made before the Beijing meeting.

(The Beijing will be held in April 2013)

But shortly after that, we’ll execute agreements that have been selected or negotiated and then pass the applications on to iana delegation.

And we should be through all the evaluation results in June.

We are actually finishing four or five months ahead of what we projected.

I could talk a lot about why that is, but it is due to the work people in this room and beating the heck out of our consultants.

So some statistics, seven applicants have withdrawn applications or sent us notice to withdraw applications.

Six of them are completed.

The money is given back and their names are posted.

One is still in process because there’s back and forth between us and the applicants, so in order to make everything official, that’s where that is.

No objections have been received.…

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ICANN To Hold Lottery To Get New gTLD’s To Market Sooner: Draw To Occur December 4-15; Objection Period Extended To March 13th

October 11th, 2012 Comments off

If you have been following the new gTLD process then you know that ICANN has been trying to figure out a “fair” way to determine which new gTLD applications would be processed and how new gTLD’s would be delegated.

We noted back in August that ICANN which couldn’t define a method for the order in which it would process the applications, they would have the same problem when figuring out how to roll the new gTLD’s.

ICANN rejected the idea of a random draw, then went the idea of a batching, then Digital Archery.

After saying that a “draw” or random determination for giving priority one new gTLD applicant over another could be seen as an illegal lottery, ICANN has done a 360 and is now going back to the idea of a random draw.

The draw will be held December4th-15th 2012.

ICANN also extended the objection period until March 13th 2013 from its current deadline of January 15th.

ICANN will start releasing evaluation results starting in “late March 2013 and are scheduled to finish at the end of June of that year. ”

“Those with the lowest Draw Numbers will be released first (after IDNs). ”

“Dividing the number of applications by the number of weeks available indicates that approximately 150 evaluation results should be released per week.”

“In the first weeks, the number of releases might be fewer than that because, when the Draw occurs in December, it will cause a re-ordering of evaluations by the panels. We expect that the number released weekly will ramp up quickly.”

“Applications that pass initial evaluation and are free of objections, and contention will progress immediately onto the next step.

“Applications that fail initial evaluation, or are not free of objections and contention, will not proceed to the next step until evaluations are passed and/or objections and contention cleared.

“Application that later pass extended evaluation, or clear objection or contention will proceed on to the next step along with the applications that pass initial evaluation in the same week that are free from objection and contention.”

Here is what ICANN said in an announcement last night:

“An equitable and reliable method is required for prioritizing new gTLD applications to meet root zone scaling requirements and enable timely processing of applications through contract execution and pre-delegation testing.”

“ICANN will use a Prioritization Draw method to assign a priority number to each application – dubbed the “Draw Number.”

“The Draw is scheduled to occur on a day during the period December 4- 15.

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