Friday, August 28, 2015

Hillary.club : the Name Game of Politics

With the 2016 Presidential election already looming large, two key web addresses are up for sale to the highest bidder as Hillary.club and HillaryClinton2016.club are currently accepting bids at a SnapNames.com domain name auction that will begin at midnight Eastern on September 1, 2015. It’s anybody’s guess who will walk away with the politically charged online real estate, but bids start at just $69.00 for each, and are expected to go higher once the three-day auction commences.

It’s an accepted practice that political campaigns establish a strong online presence and dynamic social networking to convey their messages and that campaigns can potentially be won or lost online. Now with the plethora of new web extensions, such as .club, .vote, .gop, .democrat, and more, politicians, supporters and even the opposition can now get a great web address for branding any politically focused or campaign-related website.

“Given the sense of community the word ‘club’ represents, we know that .CLUB web addresses can play a key role in the campaigns of the future. In the 2014 Indonesian Presidential election we saw supporters rally behind the winning candidate Joko Widodo at www.Jokowi.club, and we’re confident the passion behind any political campaign can be easily expressed with a .CLUB domain,” stated Colin Campbell, CEO of .CLUB Domains. “Many of the great .com names are taken - even Hillary.com isn’t available – but Hillary.club and HillaryClinton2016.club are both great names for official or unofficial supporter websites.”

While 2016 is being hailed as a `high-tech’ election, many candidates and political supporters may miss the boat by not securing their relevant web addresses, the prices of which can vary widely. A generic word that also has other meanings, Trump.club, for example, is currently listed for sale at Sedo.com for an asking price of $20,000. Campbell, a Florida resident, has registered the web address Jeb.club, not to sell it, but rather to take it off the market and donate it to the former Florida Governor’s campaign organization.

In order to participate in the auctions for Hillary.club and HillaryClinton2016.club bids must be placed online at SnapNames.com before 9pm PT on August 31st / 12am ET September 1st. 

Recognized as the most popular new domain extension, .CLUB has set records for the highest amount paid to date for a new generic top-level domain (gTLD) when wine.club sold for $140,000 at auction, and both Vegas.club and Coffee.club sold for $100,000 each.

About .Club Domains, LLC
Led by Internet entrepreneur Colin Campbell, whose prior successes include Tucows Interactive and Hostopia.com, .Club Domains, LLC was formed for the purpose of becoming the .CLUB gTLD registry. The company recently launched Startup.club to support entrepreneurs building businesses around a .CLUB domain name. With more than 280,000 domain names sold to date .CLUB leads the pack of new domain extensions in sales and usage. More information and links to register .CLUB domains are available now at http://www.get.club.

For more information, please contact:
Bridgette King
.Club Domains Public Relations
954-937-9616
Bridgette[at]get.club

Thursday, August 20, 2015

No, “.xyz” domains won’t replace “.com”: “.GDN” will

We all read the story of Google buying the abc.xyz domain name: an announcement which shaked the new gTLD industry (for those who forgot already: “new gTLD” stands for “new generic Top-Level Domains”). Just in case you didn’t notice: the “.GDN” new gTLD has arrived and its website says that “.gdn” stands for “Global Domain Name”.

What is “Global Domain Name”?
The description is available on the Registry’s website and it says:
“.GDN “Global Domain Name” for all individuals and businesses domain name registrants, extension is generic, short, composed of 3 letters and easy to remember just like .com, .net .org etc. Registration is not limited to its generic category but also offer FREE innovative email marketing tools for all .GDN domain name registrants. Market your products and services with exact URL name and target your niche audience”.

Are you sure?
No, not at all. I checked the new gTLD application and here is what it says about the definition of “GDN”:
“...JSC “NIS” would like to take the opportunity of ICANN’s New Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) expansion program and intent to establish a new generic top level domain .gdn to represent “Geo Domain Network”. The .GDN new gTLD was first created to “commence a new generic top level domain name avenue for global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) industry and users, that enables and improve for commercial entities to illustrate, manage, market their products, services, education and experience, which enhance visibility and makes it easy for users to recognize GNSS activity on internet”.
Not much to do with what the Registry website says.

So what’s the story behing the .GDN new gTLD?
I wrote an email to the Registry for more information and hope to receive an answer so note that what comes next is a personal opinion.

I believe the .GDN project was a great idea since it focussed on a niche market: the global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) industry and users. If the frontpage changed the meaning of this 3 letters Top-Level Domain to a more “generic” definition, it is quite possible that the applicant realized that:
  1. There were too many new gTLD applications launching at the same time in 2012 and there would be not enough visibility for his TLD or;
  2. There was a close unexpected competition: .EARTH - .SPACE - .TECH… or;
  3. The original market for which was created the TLD was not big enough to sell these domain names.
I like it anyway
Whatever the reason is for this change of definition, I like the idea of making things easier to end-user and if you will read about the mention of a “platform” in the new gTLD application, I believe it will be adapted to the product mentionned on the Registry’s frontpage. Buying a domain name will come with: “a free enterprise email account with a free enterprise email account with: unlimited email blasting, targeted audience listing tools, verify email listing, campaign statistic reports, 100’s of built-in professional templates, 1GB Secure online folder, and many more features and tools”.

The registration process for domain names is long and complex. It requires to provide a lot of information and do an important number of clicks to finalize the procedure. If a new gTLD applicant is able to minimize the number of clicks to set up an email and a website at the end of the domain name registration process, then this is an improvement.

The .TEL Registry tried to offer a simple website at the end of the domain name registration process and the .UNO Registry also has a similar approach. Is the .GDN going to surprise us?

Where can I register a .GDN domain name?
The Trademark Clearinghouse just opened the .GDN Sunrise Period and it will close on Monday, 9 November, 2015 at 16:00. It is possible to register a .GDN new domain name with one of these accredited Registrars (one at the moment).


Sources:
*JSC “Navigation Information Systems” (JSC “NIS”) is a systems integrator for major GLONASS satellite technology adoption projects in Russia. The Company was established in 2007. JSC “NIS” business is installing GLONASS satellite technology-based equipment in vehicles and supporting commercialization of modern satellite systems in Russian and international markets (source: http://www.nis-glonass.ru/en/about_eng/).

Monday, August 17, 2015

Country names for .BRAND new gTLDs : here I come

Many .BRAND new gTLD agreements could not be signed in due time with ICANN for different reasons (IP department requested more info to ICANN, applicant forgot the ICANN deadline, applicant could not signed due to a problem with law in his country, etc…). If so many contracts are being signed now, what is coming next with all these .BRAND new domain name extensions and is there a “but” somewhere?

I noticed recent Trademarks signed their new gTLD contract with ICANN. Some pioneers have already started to deploy their domain names and I believe the future should be interesting on how these are used.

A few recent .BRAND new gTLDs caught my attention and I see a lot of interest for them to be able to register domainnames such as "country.brand" ("country" could be any country name such as "brazil" and "brand" could be any of the brands below in this list:
  • Fedex
  • Total
  • AlfaRomeo
  • Maserati
  • Airbus (I am a serious fan of Airbus)
For many of these new gTLDs, I believe it would make sense to allow the registration of city and country as second level domains: understand that it would make sense to allow the registration of domain names such as:
  • (www.)france.brand
  • polska.brand
  • www.paris.brand or
  • roma.brand
Here comes the “but”
Unfortunately, the new gTLd applicant guidebook is very clear about that option and here is what is says. If many applicants requested an “digit/digit, letter/digit and digit/letter two character ASCII labels at the second level”, nothing was requested in regard to country and city names. If I am not sure I understand the reason of requesting about numbers, I do not understand why no Brand is not more pushy regarding country and city names. Here is what the authorization says regarding the release of all digit/digit, letter/digit and digit/letter 2 character ASCII labels at the second level:
Effective 01 December 2014, pursuant to Section 2 of Specification 5 of the Registry Agreement and subject to compliance with all other terms of the agreement applicable to each individual TLD, ICANN authorizes all new gTLD registries to release all digit/digit, digit/letter and letter/digit two-character ASCII labels for registration to third parties and activation in the DNS at the second level; for the absence of doubt, the aforementioned labels are listed in Appendix 1”.
But...what about Country Names? (ie: www.france.BRAND)
The specification 5 (page 46 of the new gTLD applicant guidebook) says:
"The country and territory names contained in the following internationally recognized lists shall be initially reserved at the second level and at all other levels within the TLD at which the Registry Operator provides for registrations:
  1. the short form (in English) of all country and territory names contained on the ISO 3166-1 list, (I changed the link: the one in the new gTLD applicant guidebook points to an error) as updated from time to time, including the European Union, which is exceptionally reserved on the ISO 3166-1 list, and its scope extended in August 1999 to any application needing to represent the name European Union;
  2. the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names, Technical Reference Manual for the Standardization of Geographical Names, Part III Names of Countries of the World; and
  3. the list of United Nations member states in 6 official United Nations languages prepared by the Working Group on Country Names of the United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names;
provided, that the reservation of specific country and territory names may be released to the extent that Registry Operator reaches agreement with the applicable government(s), provided, further, that Registry Operator may also propose release of these reservations, subject to review by ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee and approval by ICANN".
In regard of what is written above, the answer to registering a country name as second level domain in a .BRAND new gTLD is : "no".

What could .BRANDs do if they can’t use country names?
Well, as you can expect, ICANN is a very open "not for profit organization" when it comes to asking for something...that can help business grow. Just like two number domains were finaly allowed to be sold for certain Registries, Country names should soon be open too but under certain conditions.

The document after is established to “facilitate notification of registry requests for release of country and territory names”: it does not explain the complete process to register a country name as a domain name but...if this document was published...well...why would the GAC publish it if it was not to allow the registration of country names as second level domains?

The GAC explains
The Governmental Advisory Committee just published the country requirements for notification of requests for release of country/territory names as second-level domains in new gTLDs. Understand that if it is not yet possible for a .BRAND new gTLD to register a www.country name.BRAND, it could soon be possible: the table provides the respective country’s requirements for notification of requests for country names according to each country.

My understanding
As I understand this document, a country like Belgium will require no notification for brand TLDs to register a domain name such as belgium.BRAND (or www.belgium.BRAND) and Ireland will require absolutely no notification from any kind of Registry to register a domain name like ireland.consulting (or www.ireland.consulting). A country like Australia will require a notification for all requests. French must still be on holidays since they do not yet appear on that list ;-)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A better Governing Body for better domain names?

ICANN has shown that the Internet works, and actually, it has never stopped working: who can tell the same about any online project? Internet works and the world can thank ICANN for this. When if comes to talking about domain names, this is a different speech and the ICANN clearly shows that it might not be the right Governing body anymore. I am no journalist and here is my opinion.

Mistakes from the ICANN new gTLD program
The problem with what comes next is that it is now too late and there is no way-back until “better” is found.

The ICANN new gTLD program has shown that the many mistakes made will have an impact on end-users in the coming years: plural and singular new domain name extensions to confuse future Registrants, (I like to call them) the “ultra-negative” new gTLDs like “.sucks” to seriously harm trademarks, companies and people when they discover that their name was registered in “.sucks”, the impossibility for Trademarks to protect themselves without “paying”, the incapacity of real end-users to be listened to and an ICANN Board who is not able to say “no” when it should. These are the first one to catch my attention and actually...this post is not about listing them.

The AFNIC report explains what is behind domain names
The Recent AFNIC report gives ideas on “how the DNS could be improved”. It is a very good explanation on how the Internet actually works for domain names and what other alternatives already exist. You probably never noticed about other alternatives right? You never noticed because they are no standard and require to set up your computer: something you’ll probably never do because you have no idea that this can be done nor how a computer can be set up to access them. Yes...there are other “Internets”, other ways to name a website and other networks you could navigate to see a content online. But who cares as long as emails work and website return an information when you search on Google?

I care because Internet is now led by bodies who don’t have the capacity to take the right decisions anymore and this has an strong impact on future generations of Internet users. I am French and I know what I am talking about. I live in a country where our debt is increasing as well as unemployment and we are the one to explain Greeks what they should do to recover their place in Europe! This gives you an idea of what I think about the role of ICANN when it comes to deciding about domain names. Many times, the ICANN should have said “no” and it hasn’t.

Can domain names be upgraded or improved?
“Alternative roots” are “other Internets”, pretty much the same as what the ICANN governs but in their case, the governing body is the legal entity to have developed each root, the body to maintain it. The Afnic report explains what they are much better than I do. I remember talking about alternative roots for the past 20 years with the same feed-back: “not a chance to ever see the day nor to be adopted by Internet users unless it is made simple”. The problem with alternative roots is that they need “adoption”. Adoption requires a serious communication back-up (by countries or member states for example) but not only: they require a good method of governance and from a governing body whose decisions cannot be “pushed” for adoption by one single country or spoken language: English in the case of the ICANN.

The .SUCKS new gTLD: pure genius or end-users nightmare?
Pure genius of course when you sit in the chair of the Entrepreneur because impacted parties by this Top-Level Domains have no other choice but to pay and this means big money for the applicant. I particularly love the way the applicant promotes the benefit of “.sucks” domain names to end-users.
A nightmare for any party who can be associated to this negative term at any moment with, as sole solution, to pay to fight infringement.

Even if it is already too late, I believe this Top-Level Domains is just a beginning unless ICANN changes that. And if it doesn’t, I see no reason why an applicant would not submit an application for a “.pedophilia” or a “.fuck” new gTLD in the future Round of the ICANN new gTLD program. Trademarks will probably pay not to be associated to these domain name extensions.

What could come next?
Angela Merkel started the discussion in 2014 and proposed building an European Network: understand an Internet where the ICANN wouldn’t have its word to say. The article explains why. I also remember launching the subject of alternative roots to an AFNIC member during a conference about new gTLDs but I was fast taken to a dead-end since it does not really promote new gTLDs...but I now read an AFNIC report on how to improve the DNS. I also keep receiving a very negative speech from all Trademarks I discuss with about the the “.sucks” new gTLD with the same question: “how could this happen?” ICANN, this question is for you. So I wonder: isn’t it time to build a better naming system based on mistakes made from the existing one?

The Afnic Report is full of suggestions for a “version 2”
The Afnic report is full of ideas based on existing solutions which could be adapted to a version 2 of the Internet. Cryptography offers an alternative to better fight spying for example: part of Angela Merkel’s problem (and now the problem of more European Leaders since 2012)?

New gTLDs are great and offer real advantages to end-users: registration figures truly demonstrate that. The success of Registries such as .CLUB and its level of adoption from Clubs, geographic TLDs such as .PARIS or .LONDON, IDNs are good examples which demonstrate that the ICANN new gTLD program brought innovation and serves end-users. New gTLDs are being adopted and most should be granted access to a version two of the Web, getting rid of…”mistakes from the past”. Only a new governing body can make a mix of the existing to start another version of the Internet...based on end-users suggestions, not those from service providers.

A new Governance is the issue
I won’t write about the political mess around the announcement from an European member State announcing its version of Internet: lobbyists exist for this.

If a version 2 of Internet was to be created, I’d see no reason to get rid of existing new generic Top-Level Domains. There is a way to offer entry tickets to selected existing Registries so they could keep their place on a version 2 of a better Internet. In return, they’d have to adapt their project according to new legal and technical rules, up to them to want it or not.

Make the DNS more simple to end-users
If we all admit that things like “sub-domains” are not brandable, building a new Internet also offers advantages to Trademarks and other end-users to upgrade domain names. My personal website’s name is “www.jovenet.consulting”: why can’t I have “Jovenet Consulting” instead of having to go through the registration process of a domain name and technically decide wheither I have/want to use the “www” in front of it or not? Can’t we invent something more simple today?

Internet is great and it works technically. It is free too and let’s keep it this way - unless paying is the solution to make it a decent place for future generations of users - but if I like the idea that if should belong to everyone, we also know that democracy exists because there are leaders to decide. When someone is above final leaders to push decisions, when these leader’s close circle are able to push decisions, this is not called democracy anymore. It is what I believe is happening to ICANN today and as an Internet user, I want better than this for myself and for my kids.

Sources:

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Accredited Registrars to offer Premium ".club"

Generic ".club" domains  now open to all
Until then, it was difficult to register a good domain name ending in ".club". It required to go through a confusing auction procedure and no matter what you think: a normal end-user doesn't do that. Try with football.club: you understand what I am talking about.

Standard domain name end-users (Registrants) usually register their domain names with their Accredited Registrar because the process is familiar to them and also...because they trust them.

There are other places to register Premium domain names but they are for professionals who know how to manipulate domains. Last week I attended the French NDD.camp for Domainers and I learnt that one of them generates thousands of Euros with a short list of 120 domains generic domains "only": the guy generates traffic and gets paid by...Google.

A Good news for non professionals
As soon as tomorrow, it becomes possible to register one of the 8,000 exceptional ".club" domain names directly at your accredited Registrar.

In simple words
This is what the Registrars wanted: to be able to present and sell .CLUB premium names directly, instead of having to explain their customers that they should go to another website.

What is important here
The most important thing is that the premium price is for the first year only. All renewals are always at regular General Availability prices (unless your Registrar invents something different).

An example
If you pay €100,00, €800,00 or more for your generic Premium ".club" domain name, the price you will pay each year could be as low as €12,00 !

I want one (the official list)
The complete list of Premium domain names is available here and they can be registered with Nameshield.com or Namebay.com.

New gTLDs: .ANIMAL names in the second Round?

Round 1 of the ICANN new gTLD program has been successful in many areas and industries such as "colors", "clubs" and "city domain name extensions" (city Top-Level Domains). In which areas of interest should we expect the the second Round to be as successful?

Colors are selling pretty well in Round 1
A few figures:
  1. .RED : 31,609 domains registered;
  2. .BLACK : 4,950 registrations;
  3. .PINK : 13,330 registrations;
  4. .ORANGE : This is a trademark;
  5. .BLUE : 15,585 registrations;
  6. .GREEN : 1,464 registrations.
Afilias submitted four applications for colors: red, black, pink and blue. A trademark applied for the .ORANGE new gTLD application and .GREEN was submitted to represent the Green movement ("Earth's domain").

What about animals?
Some applicants realized that speculating with new gTLD applications was possible. Auctions for some of them also seem to have been lucrative but this is nothing compared to private auctions: some new gTLD applications were won in auctions for millions of Dollars leaving their applicants with more money than what they spent to apply.


For the second time, I hear about "animals" and with the experience of Round one, I wouldn't be surprised to see applications related to names of animals. If speculating on domain names has existed for the past 20 years and speculating on new gTLD applications is profitable, it could become the next trend.

A few animal names I heard recently:
  1. Lion(s);
  2. Crocodile.
There are many more possibilities:
  • Bull
  • Panda
  • Tiger
  • Jaguar: application was submitted already for a Trademark.
  • Gazelle
  • Eagle
  • Penguin
  • ...
Some of these names are Trademarks too so here is my next question: what if an applicant was to submit an application for one of these animal names?

Singer 50Cent to choose a .CLUB domain name for his Fan Club.