June 2017

New domain name registration volumes: all new gTLD reports were updated by Jean Guillon.

Friday, November 28, 2014

New .VIN domain names: what about accents?

What exactly is that "reserved list of names" Fadi Chehadé refers to in his letter dated October the 22nd? If we already have an idea, we wonder if they considered protecting more than just "accents". The name of Hogan Lovells was mentionned in the last Safebrands "RINDD" and their input on this question is welcome if they are the company to be working on that list.


What about accents?
One could think that English website owners would register their domain name ending in .WINE and those in French in .VIN. In a world where things would be black or white I would agree, but we live in a world where everything is grey so potential Registrants will probably register their domain name in the two extensions.

We use accents in French and for this reason, you won't see a French bottle of wine sold in an English speaking country where accents would be taken away from the sticker, in particular when the name of a wine Geographical Indication adds to promoting the Trademark on the bottle.

If accents are a strong added value when it comes to selling wine, we believe - for sure - that combination of signs including accents are part of that list of reserved names. An example for "Béarn": will the "Bearn" (with no accent) Geographical Indication be protected as well as "Béarn" with an accent? If bearn.wine and bearn.vin are reserved, what about béarn.wine and béarn.vin?
In this case, that is two names reserved in two fifferent extensions.

Spaces do not exist in domain names...
The same case figure applies to Geographical Indications using multiple keywords. What about protecting "Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet" and "Banyuls grand cru"? You noticed that hyphens and spaces were added to the problem and if "Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet.wine" is offered to be reserved in the .Wine  and .Vin extensions, what about:
  1. BienvenuesBâtard-Montrachet.wine;
  2. BienvenuesBâtardMontrachet.wine;
  3. BienvenuesBatardMontrachet.wine;
  4. Bienvenues-BâtardMontrachet.wine;
  5. BienvenuesBatard-Montrachet.wine;
  6. ...
This is a long list, even longer if spaces between letters need to be replaced by "something". Is the "hyphen" to replace spaces? In this case a GI such as "Banyuls grand cru" should require to reserve:
  1. Banyulsgrandcru.wine;
  2. Banyuls-grandcru.wine;
  3. Banyulsgrand-cru.wine;
  4. Banyuls-grand-cru.wine;
  5. The same name in the .VIN Top-Level Domain.
For this last example, this means reserving eight names for two extensions: eight domain names for one single wine Geographical Indication...

What about plurals?
One Wine Geographical Indication wouldn't want to see reserved all of these combinations and take the risk to have someone register a "BienvenueBâtard-Montrachet.wine", getting rid of the "s" in "Bienvenues") or adding one to a "Banyulsgrandcrus.wine" when it does not take any.

If these examples look like paranoia...they remain real ones: plural is a factor to consider in the protection of Wine Geographical Indications and if it wasn't, why then champagnes.fr (with an "s") is redirected to champagne.fr (with no "s")?

What about a GI using accents, spaces, hyphens and an apostrophy in the same name?
I will let readers play with the "Chambertin-Clos de Bèze", "Côtes de Bordeaux-Saint-Macaire" and "Duché d’Uzès" examples.

:-)

The Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH)
The TMCH could be an alternative to these coming problems. For any Brand interested in .WINE and .VIN Sunrise Periods, I would suggest to register: "abused labels in which the trademark is simply included could be submitted to the Clearinghouse as long as they meet all the eligibility requirements".

Is everyone satisfied?
The more domains will be reserved, the more it will probably cost to use them since they will require to be "unlocked" (taken out of the reserved list of names to be registered). If we agree that protection has a cost, it is possible that I am wrong and that such mechanism to register these domain names is a smooth and cheap process.
In this case I believe both parties are satisfied: wine Geographical Indications are protected from bad behaviors and .WINE and .VIN Registries have an existing list of domain name already promoted with potential buyers coming.

But...where is that list?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A "version 2" of the Internet ?

A week ago I was discussing the alternative of an European Internet root with an ex-ICANN Board member. The idea that I like to develop in these discussions is to offer end-users a modern and cheaper naming system. Note that it does not mean the ICANN root is a bad one, it means that a new and better one could cohabit with the (now old) existing one.

One will wonder what this article has to do with new gTLDs but considering the creation of an Internet "version 2", offers website and brand owners many advantages. Starting from scratch allows to avoid all mistakes made with domain names. Brands and domain name owners already know what they would like to get rid of with .COM domains and new gTLDs: an alternative root would allow that.


Alternative Roots do not make sense...unless...
As usual, discussing this subject often ends with a "come on, it is a non-sense" (in particular when you discuss this with a member of the actual Internet Governing body) or "many initiatives exist already, none works" or again: "users won't understand and they will see more costs first".

If I agree that an alternative root governed by a private company is not the good way to do it or has no chance to work, I believe a new alternative root Governed by an "International Body" starts to make sense. Here is why.

What exactly is an Alternative Root?
To make it simple, what we call an "alternative root" is the same as what ICANN does, unless it could be governed by someone else with different rules: it is the network on which ICANN works. If this network already makes Internet to function properly, thank to ICANN, a body such as the European Commission could build its own network (with servers hosted in every member state) and create its own naming system (instead of "www.brand.com", we could reasonably imagine that a Brand would want to use a simple "brand" as its name and get rid of what is not necessary around it: "www" for example). A classification created by the INTA could replace Top-Level Domains.
This Internet "version 2" would be Governed differently with its own rules (instead of ICANN's). Protection mechanisms and the equivalent of new gTLDs would be studied seriously, Singular VS Plurals of a TLD (its equivalent) would not be allowed... anyway: who wants .HOTEL and .HOTELS domain names?

Why does it make sense now?
Such opportunity does not only make sense because Angela Merkel says so (also read here), but because there are many more advantages to start again with a blank copy and learn from mistakes of the ICANN new gTLD program.

The ICANN new gTLD program
The ICANN new gTLD program is a good idea and took long to launch. Now it is launched, some mistakes will remain and cannot be modified anymore. The problem with many of these issues is that they will keep bothering end-users for long...and they cost a lot. The more new domain name extensions launch, the more the level of infringement increases and as a brand, I cannot afford to protect myself from infringement registering all domain names or blocking someone to register my name in a different extension. Who can afford to be protected anyway?

It is easy to criticize the ICANN new gTLD program but could these mistakes have been avoided?
The list is long and one will wonder if the actual situations would have been different if these questions below had been asked to end-users and new gTLD applicants:

  • OK if ICANN allows to launch similar domain name extensions in different languages with different rules and with different launch dates and at different prices?
  • OK to pay each time for the same domain name in each of these extensions to block a third party from doing it?
  • Does it matter if your risk of infringement increases the more new domain name extensions are launched: do you mind paying for this?
  • OK to pay for the Trademark Clearinghouse?
  • OK to allow singular and plural versions of a domain name extension?
  • Do you see a problem if a Registry becomes a Registrar?
  • Do you agree for the domain name you are interested in to go to an auction if someone else is interested in it?
  • OK if it cost you to pay up to $1,000 a year for one single domain name?
  • OK with .SUCKS new gTLD?
  • OK with .SEX, .PORN and .ADULT if porn websites remain on .COM domain names?
  • OK if ICANN changes the accreditation procedure after you have applied for your domain name extension (and paid for it)?
  • OK if persons involved in ICANN operations have personal interests in certain TLDs?
  • OK to protect "Olympics games" and a few other lucky ones at the root level? What about other brands?
  • OK to protect wine Geographical Indications on all new TLDs and prior to launching the ICANN new gTLD program?
To all of these questions, I believe the answer would have been a "NO", except for the last one.

Wine Geographical Indications

The example of protecting wine Geographical Indications is a good one: shouldn't such issue have been solved prior to launching the ICANN new gTLD program and not after?

A new Internet root allows to start from scratch and learn from these errors
Of course launching a new European Root has a technical cost. There is one too for listening to end-users (and avoid service providers to "think it all" according to their interest). Building a new naming system requires to involve the INTA but end-users must be listened to first.
Copying the ICANN root and think that it will be enough to block a country from spying on another one is not true but if the security aspect of an Internet root is important, the real opportunity in Angela Merkel's suggestion is to give Brands and Website owners an alternative which is not based on...paying.

What would you choose?
If you had the choice between using a version of the Internet:

  1. where pornography was uncontrolled, where receiving daily spam was natural, where the risk for brands to be squatted existed, where infringement was accepted, where parked domains for sale with useless content was a business, where it took weeks to take down a website showing child pornography, where the governing body didn't listen to end-users ... and;
  2. where access to the network was controlled, where brands paid once to be protected, where the naming system allowed to enter a keyword to find a results, where pornography was located at a specific place, where spam did not exist and the sender of an email could be identified, where the governing body had legal power to act, where end-users were asked the question on how to improve the Internet ...
Does option two look like it is wonderland? Not necessarily if it required to log-in to a version 2 of the Internet prior to surfing: I personally see no problem with this.


How do you make this happen and what do you get in return?
Two versions of the Internet can cohabit: one on the old ICANN Root, the other on a new European Root. As a brand, I would want to exist on a controlled version of the Internet for many reasons:

  • Credibility is important. When a website is identified, the consumers' level of trust increases;
  • If the price to exist on an European Internet allows anyone worldwide to come visit my website, I see no reason not to use such new address on my visit cards;
  • I see an advantage to create content on a version of Internet where I know there won't be confusion with a similar website using my domain name with a mistype "to generate traffic";
  • No spam? I take it;
  • One place to pay for my name? I take it. Even better if it is a way for our broke Governments to earn money;
  • One single directory? I want to be there and pay for this;
  • As a parent...I am able to offer my kids a safe place to surf;
  • ...

Search Engines now control the Internet: wouldn't that be a problem for a second root?
Let's say they are two (three?) American one to control browsing on the Internet. I am confident that they would adapt to a new root, this is just a matter of an upgrade. Wouldn't they want to, I would download a browser promoted by a strong governing body if it were to develop one in exchange of guarantees that:

  1. it worked;
  2. it was strongly governed and able to take fast action against bad behaviors.
I am sure there are many Geeks in Europe able to develop such a browser for a strong governing body. A a brand and website owner, I would agree to change "for better" if this "Internet version 2" allowed anyone to visit my website and share electronic messages with me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Everyone can participate in ICANN decisions ? Come on...

I participated in the French RINDD today in Paris: RINDD stands for "Rencontres Internationales des Noms de Domaine". The translation would be "The International Domain Name Conference". This event is organized once a year by SafeBrands, an International French Registrar. Many participants were there: the ICANN, Law Firms, Donuts, other new gTLD applicants, back-end Registries and many experts of all kinds...

Round Tables and debates
There were round tables on several subjects and it was particularly appreciated to hear Donuts, applicant for hundreds of new gTLDs, to answer questions in French, and sometimes, direct ones. I was kind enough not to ask publicly how much they paid for the .WINE new gTLD.

If I am always interested in hearing participants like Mathieu Weill and listen to his figures about the new gTLD market, the potential of new gTLDs, his open questions on the possible success and failures of new gTLD initiatives, new business models...there is one subject which really pisses me off, it is when I hear someone say that "everybody can participate in ICANN decisions". 

"Everybody can participate in ICANN decisions"
I have the chance to belong to one of the ICANN group named the NCUC, which has a "real voting power in ICANN’s policy making and Board selection, the NCUC develops and supports positions that favor noncommercial communication and activity on the Internet". NCUC stands for "Noncommercial Users Constituency": a group anyone can join to represent ... non-commercial end users (the only "real" end users to me).
I joined that group because I believed it could block things like Plural and Singular domain name extensions to coexist. I admit I failed in participating enough to block this from happening: domain names ending in .hotel and .hotels (with an "s") will always be confusing for end users.

No: you can't participate in ICANN decisions
...but you can try...

A good example to give is this letter sent by the ICANN CEO to French Ministry Axelle Lemaire regarding protecting wine Geographical Indications and which says: "The parties involved are now working on devising a mechanism which would offer protections to a reserved list of names, which would be contractually protected through ICANN’s registry agreement".

Come on...you're not going to talk about Project dotVinum again?
We tried to "participate" in ICANN decisions in April 2013 the 3rd, providing solutions to protect wine Geographical Indications. We wrote to ICANN, who published our letter, and its subject was "Hints and Solution for the Protection of Wine Geographical Indications in the ICANN New gTLD Program". Guess what we offered as a solution in this letter: we offered to protect lists of names...

So what?
Not only ICANN never answered us, which probably shows that we are not as honorable as Axelle Lemaire, but we are pretty much surprised that it is our solution that the ICANN CEO now uses as one to unlock the situation for both .WINE and .VIN new gTLDs.

It is a pity that so many years were wasted and that ICANN never called us: Project dotVinum for wine Registries was launched in 2011, introduced to the French Ministère de l'Agriculture and a few of other wine institutions.
We also find funny that the Law Firm in charge of "finding solutions" has come to that conclusion and we are happy to have "shown the way".

So, can you participate in ICANN decisions? Check by yourself. Note that we are not naive neither...we know how it works...and on .WINE, it works behind the scene: end users are not welcome to play.

More coming on ethic? ;-)

Monday, November 17, 2014

gTLD.club moves to the Blogger platform (authors: read this)

From Wordpress to Blogger

Almost a year ago I launched gTLD.club: a club for authors interested in new gTLDs to write about the subject of their choice. I started this project on the already very popular Wordpress.com platform but I am more familiar with the Blogger platform which I find easier to use and more efficient for what I do.

Reason for this move
  • Blogging requires to be able to post fast and minimize the number of clicks for the post to be published. I find Blogger faster.
  • Wordpress does not allow to play much, at least on the .COM platform, and it is expensive too. The .ORG platform allows to download Wordpress and install it on a hosted account at any registrar but again, it requires far too many clicks, a Registrar, a minimum technical knowledge and more passwords. Blogger is free and requires to write a post, and that's it.
  • Many authors did not write on gTLD.club because the process required to create...a blog on Wordpress: on Blogger, the author's email is needed, and that's it.
Authors: please read this
Changing from a platform to another means that authors have to register again to be granted access to gTLD.club. This is the bad thing about migrating to another platform. Dear Authors, you are welcome to request a new invitation to be able to post again.

Your design is ugly
I know that but since I am no web designer, it will remain like this. I focus on content when I read, not on design...and anyway: gTLD.club was ugly on the Worpress platform too ;-)

Translate please
Everybody does not read English nor French and even if no one likes automatic translation tools, it can be interesting to be able to understand an article when it is not in your own language so I added "Google Traduction" to this Blog because I write in both languages.

Old articles
Old articles will remain on the old platform.

New .WINE and .VIN are now Political Tools


The more I follow the .WINE & .VIN opera, the more I start to believe that the idea is either to kill both new gTLD applications to free space in Round 2 of the ICANN new gTLD program or make this subject a political tool “only” to increase Europe’s presence in ICANN decisions.

Flying high above the sky

If there still is a wish from the European Commission to help .WINE and .VIN to become the strongest identity European wines could ever have on Internet, I would like to understand why the situation is still blocked:
  1. There is a list of protected domains the ICANN CEO is trying to offer for protection: I have few doubts this one won’t go through;
  2. There is a protection mechanism that the EU is trying to have set-up but which seems to be part of the reason why the situation is blocked. The strange thing about this new measure is that there is one existing already and it is called the Trademark Clearinghouse: if a wine Geographical Indication is registered into this database AND the corresponding domain name(s) registered, then there is no lack of protection;
  3. …the recent communication from Philippe Armand Martin, at the French Assemblée Nationale, says one thing: the fact that a possible decision relies on the next European Council dated November the 27th 2014 is a clear proof that the French Government understands nothing (or very few) about new gTLD procedures (and by the way, .COFFEE new gTLD was launched already). If the idea is to block .WINE and .VIN because, we – European (French ?) – “missed the train”, then I would suggest to consider: not building a new root but a complete new Internet Governed and by us with European rules, because thinking this council will change anything is a mistake. It is like thinking the WTO can affect this situation. This ever lasting situation shows again how inefficient and slow, we, European, can be. In his speech, I particularly like Jean-Louis Roumegas’s offer “to open a global discussion on this issue”.
    As it is built, the ICANN new gTLD program offers no solution but to slow down the process. What the ICANN is doing participating in slowing down this process is already against its own rules: according to my understanding of the ICANN new gTLD applicant Guidebook (also called the “AGB”), this problem should have been solved a long time ago.
Whatever decision is taken in November the 27th, the ICANN Board does not have to approve it just to please European Member States and a few American Organizations who think wine GIs and/or their equivalent should be protected.

Someone will cry

There is still zero reason why both applications should not proceed: my understanding of the the ICANN CEO’s personal contribution to this issue is that ICANN will then have to face the reaction of both parties if it approves .WINE & .VIN or not. In both cases, someone will cry so who should that be: Donuts for investing so much time and money to find out that ICANN changes the rules again for the benefit of the European Commission (EC), or the European Commission for wasting so much time in trying to protect wine GIs and finding out in the end that very few was changed?

So what really is the problem then?

The real actual problem is that ICANN needs to find a solution to demonstrate that its methodology to apply for a domain name extension is finalized and can face a situation such as the .WINE one; AND it needs to please the party which thinks that it is being fooled. If I could almost agree that the methodology is finalized, I believe there is no solution to please the EC with its requests.

Note that it would help quite a lot if it was clear about what the EC wants and as for now, the negotiation between parties involved has not been made public.

What happens next

.WINE and .VIN are a GO “as they are

If the ICANN Board says OK to .WINE and .VIN, no matter what the European Commission thinks, then the ICANN confirms its position as an American organization who does not really care about the rest of the world, no matter what Axelle Lemaire thinks.

.WINE and .VIN are no GO

ICANN confirms that its methodology to apply for a new gTLD has a breach and I believe it then should have to answer Donuts on the reason why it blocked the company from succeeding after following the ICANN new gTLD applicant guidebook procedure.

A deadline please?

If no one, even ICANN, can give a dead line, the next step comes after the 27th and it is quite possible that the ICANN Board, sole entity to be able to say “yes” or “no”, says: “let’s give parties involved a little more time to find a solution. I personally hope this is not the answer but according to me, the ICANN wants to please the European Commission and avoid…a lawsuit.

My fear here is that the “no dead line situation” has been accepted by all parties and it looks like it is easier for ICANN to remain this way instead of taking the risk to act. Unfortunately and according the the AGB, there can’t be a Round 2 if this situation is not solved so let’s expect something to happen…someday.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Qu'il est bon ce .VIN californien


Les extensions du Vin seront Californiennes

Les nouvelles extensions Internet apparaissent peu à peu sur Internet et de nombreux nouveaux sites Web voient le jour. Terminé les noms de domaine qui se terminent en .COM, c’est à présent au tour des .BERLIN, des .CLUB et des .INTERNATIONAL de se faire un nom.

Pourtant, si ces noms tardent à se faire connaître, il existe deux nouvelles extensions, en instance de validation, dont on parle beaucoup. Il s’agit des deux candidatures déposées à l’ICANN - l’organisme de gouvernance des noms de domaine - pour le vin: des noms de domaine qui se termineront en .VIN et en .WINE. Le site Web de Nicolas changera probablement, nous l’espérons, pour un .VIN.

Lire cet article sur le Journal Du Net.

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