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?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Coming soon to Paris: www.strike.taxi

Another Taxi strike in Paris
I am searching for reasons why French Taxis can be any famous...but I am sorry: I don't find anything to say. Live details of this new strike are available here for anybody interested.

Coming: the .TAXI new gTLD
The Sunrise Period for .TAXI domain names started last Tuesday, 9 of June, 2015 and will end on Saturday, 8 August, 2015. At that date (more or less), it becomes possible for anyone to register a domain name ending in ".taxi" instead of (for example) ".com". French and worldwide travelers flying through Paris airports are so annoyed by these strikes that I believe it is important to remind that, there is no restriction with .TAXI new domain names.

A few suggestions
If I doubt anybody will consider registering "grève.taxi" ("grève" means "strike") since the word carries an accent, I have no doubt that someone will consider doing something with "greve.taxi" in French and "strike.taxi" in English. I am almost even able to guarantee traffic developed on subdomains such as city.strike.taxi...starting with...no...no name ("Paris" is a Trademark).

On last suggestion for the SCDTP
The SCDTP stands for "Le syndicat de défense des conducteurs du taxi parisien" (the Parisian Taxi Union). Keep an eye on .TAXI domain names because if you don't...Uber is probably watching these for you.


Friday, June 5, 2015

How will .WINE and .WIN new gTLDs coexist?

The .WINE new gTLD situation
Nobody knows if .WINE new gTLD will ever see the day. It is possible that the situation remains as it is: a "no situation". If we stick to the ICANN new gTLD applicant guidebook which says that Round 2 should start within the year following the end of Round 1; it means that this .WINE "no situation" could block Round 2 from happening if no solution is found...

Who cares?
Both applicants and contestants wanted that, didn't they? I am confident the ICANN will solve this situation whatever the new gTLD applicant guidebook says but one question remains: what happens when .WINE launches and; a question to have now AND NOT IN 10 years; what happens if both .WINE and .WIN new gTLDs have to coexist?

.WIN new gTLD has launched
The .WIN new gTLD application was submitted by Famous Four Media, a friendly company based in Gibraltar. The applicant also submitted an application for .WINE but withdrew it for a reason only Bacchus knows (in fact, there is a story around this but I find it really boring to count it again).

Mission and Purpose of ".WIN"
Extracted from the application itself: "The Applicant’s mission and purpose is to create an environment where individuals and companies can interact and express themselves in ways never before seen on the Internet, in a more targeted, secure and stable environment. Its aim is to become the premier online destination for such creators and their wide range of users. The Applicant will create an Internet space whose central function is to provide a platform for creating, producing and disseminating informative, creative and innovative content that is easily recognizable as pertaining to its stakeholder group. The Applicant is acutely aware of the importance of ICANN’s mission in coordinating the global Internetʹs systems of unique identifiers and ensuring their secure and stable operation. The Applicant’s core focus is to create a secure, sustainable, and specialized gTLD, thus supporting ICANN’s primary goals for this program in promoting consumer trust, consumer choice, competition and innovation". For more, have a look here.

Questions to have if both TLDs ever have to coexist
You probably noticed that .WINE is the same as .WIN but with an "E" added (...) Here is a few questions that come to my mind if both new gTLDs were to coexist one day. Note that this intense thinking is valid for the 10 coming years:
  1. If you are a wine producer with the intention to register a domain name ending in ".wine": what happens if someone registers the same domain in ".win" in the coming days (the ".win" new gTLD just entered its Sunrise Period)?
    1. If you are registered in the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH), you should receive a notice about a similar registration but another suggestion could be to register your ".win" domain name now.
    2. If you are not registered in the TMCH but have a Trademark, I suggest to do this now with an agent;
    3. If you don't have a Trademark, I suggest you to ask the following question in the Trademark Clearinghouse LinkedIn group: "what is the fastest way to register a Trademark and who should I do that with?", then proceed with an Agent.
    4. If you don't have the money to register a Trademark, don't tell anybody about your situation and secure your domain name as soon as Monday, 3 August, 2015 - 16:00 (more or less) with Uniregistry: one of the cheapest Registrar in the Industry.
  2. What's the plan if you are registering a ".win" domain name but can't avoid to miss the same domain name when ".wine" launches? Read above.
  3. What if .WINE is cancelled by ICANN (you never know) and I registered a ".win" domain name: what should I do with it? Keep it... If .WINE (and .VIN by the way) new gTLD(s) don't see the day in the first Round, they probably will in the second one (2017/2018 hopefully).
I strongly recommend to submit your Datas in the Trademark Clearinghouse for the reasons explained above. I'll come back on .WINE when something happens.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

More .PHOTO than .PHOTOS domains?

Remember Singular vs Plural TLDs?

I  check volumes of new domains once a week and just noticed that there are now more .PHOTO domain names registered (with no 's") than .PHOTOS (with an "s"). It had been the opposite until this week.

New .PHOTOS domain names were launched long before .PHOTO but registrations seem to tend that end-users are registering the singular version of the domain name extension rather than the plural one.

Another reason could be that .PHOTOS is reaching its first year of renewals and Registrants (end-users)could be tempted to drop their domain. Since it was launched first, its Registrants drop their domains before .PHOTO.

Figures:
  • .PHOTO: 18,435 registrations;
  • .PHOTOS: 17,481.
Let's see what happens next week.

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