Friday, September 21, 2018

A dotBrand Email is a Seal

In August the 14th of 2018, we relayed the information that Canon email addresses would use a ".canon" domain name ending. Changing the domain name extension for websites is one thing but changing emails...is something else.


A ".brand" domain name is seal
We've already explained the benefit of using a personalized domain name, ending in the name of a trademark for a website: it clarifies things and a user can be certain that he has reached the right website and no copy, or competitor or squatter, of it. Due to the prohibitive new gTLD application fee of $185,000, it makes it hard for squatters to follow.

A good example to show would that website from Gucci (the famous luxury Trademark): https://www.diventafornitore.gucci/. The domain name extensions ending in ".gucci" is the seal since there's no mistake, nor doubt, about where the consumer has reached out to: it is the Gucci Trademark.

If some Trademarks, to have applied for their own domain name extension, start to use their dotBrand new gTLD for their websites, only one has announced its intention to change all of its emails: the Canon Trademark just did that.

A ".brand" email is a seal
It is possible to fake an email: I receive spam coming from my own personalized email sometimes and my spam filter just knows it and does the rest. It means that any spammer with a little knowledge knows how to fake an email but the purpose of using such method is just to send emails for spam, not get a response so we're not really concerned here since the real benefit of using a ".brand" email is to send AND receive emails.

Spammers also often use typos in domain names (they also now use homoglyphs more and more) but they can do that creating second level domains only (what comes right before the extension), not first domains (the extension) and that's where the huge difference is.

When receiving an email from a domain name ending in ".com" (for example), anything that comes before the ".com" extension could have been created by anyone; and so the email could come from...anyone, unless the receiver is certain that it comes from the right person AND that it is not an homoglyph. The truth is that this does not happen very often but it happens and it could happen to you. Banks and other major Trademarks from all industries face such spam sent to their clients daily.

When receiving an email ending in the name of a Trademark like Canon just announced it, no one can create a domain name ending in that same Trademark but the Trademark itself which applied for it at the ICANN as a .BRAND new gTLD (specification 13). It then blocks instantly hackers and squatters from the possibility to do the same. Canon explains:
"Because ".canon" can only be used by Canon Group companies and services as well as related organizations, visitors to sites that use the TLD can easily confirm their authenticity and be assured that the information they contain is reliable."
Welcome to the future of secured email.

Hey wait...
What if an entrepreneur applied for a Trademark similar to the Canon one and decided to sell these domain names to the public? Good question...have a look here then ;-)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The LinkedIn new gTLD group is changing

Recently, LinkedIn informed group owners about a few changes on how groups will now work and on how can participants benefit more from being members. We are approaching the 3,000 participants but still, the level of participation remains low so I hope that the below will be of interest.

What's changing
What LinkedIn recently changed to the groups:
  1. Groups are now accessible from the LinkedIn mobile application: note that this is something truly useful but I have not yet found how to do this. Since these changes are recent, it should be a matter of days.
  2. Unless I missed something, it is not possible to send a weekly email to the members of the group anymore.
  3. You are encouraged to invite people and again, publishing content related to new gTLDs (only) is open to anyone as long as you stick to the subject. I just block domainers who try to sell their domain names.
  4. When sharing content from other sites, it is recommended to add a question to the content you are sharing to invite discussion.
Reminder
We now pay attention to publishing all content to the Google+ Community, which is another communication channel that we maintain on a daily basis.

The new gTLD group is free to access. You can join and contribute here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Most abused TLDs are not new gTLDs

I often read critics about new gTLDs but most of the time, they come from the ".com" domaining industry and those investors who can't sell their domain names anymore because new gTLDs have now flooded the market.

Most abused TLDs
While reading a French article on the .BZH new gTLD, I discovered the existence of the SURBL list of most abused TLDs and I was not surprised to read that the most abused TLD is ".com". The reason for this is obvious to me: it's been there forever and trademarks want to make no mistake starting something online. Trademarks often look for their ".com" first, instead of searching for something that offers more precision...but things are changing.


The SURBL list
The SURBL list is a good indicator and in today's report (Tue Sep 18 08:00:12 UTC 2018 - updated every hour), it clearly shows that ".com" leads in terms of abuses. In this top 10 of most abused TLDs:
  • The .COM comes first on top of the list;
  • Country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) are present with 6 ccTLDs;
  • Other legacy TLDs such as ".net", ".biz", ".info" and ".org" are listed too (that counts as 4 legacy TLDs);
  • Then we have 9 new gTLDs, which comes as no surprise since they offer the advantage of availability, with an important number of new extensions to have launched at the same time (hundreds of them).
Confusing new gTLDs: the next list
I recently read that article from FairWinds Partners, entitled "How Cybersquatters Capitalize on Typos and How to Protect Your Brand". I recommend this reading since ccTLDs are a serious risk when it comes to securing a ".com" domain name...but I doubt that ".com" si the future.

If the future is with new gTLDs - and that's my strong feeling - I think that it is time to add that the typos risk might become second with the introduction of hundreds of extensions: similar TLDs such as ".cam" and ".com", ".casa" and ".cash" or again ".fun" and ".fund" are the new risk to consider when registering a domain name since the problem will not be the type but the exact same second level domain in a different extension. I compiled a list of similar new gTLDs that I strongly suggest to check prior to registering any domain name.

My opinion on this
I have personally redirected my old ".com" domain name to my new ".consulting" one since I do...consulting: not because ".com" is the most abused TLD, but because it makes more sense to me. And by the way, I do Consulting, not "com": whatever it means.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The .BEST new gTLD and SEO Whitepaper

This is a whitepaper published by the .BEST new gTLD registry. I particularly like the title used in the presentation: "The untold truth". This is an extract of the content that you will find in this document:
  1. Why choose a .BEST domain name;
  2. What is the .BESt new gTLD;
  3. Examples of possible domains names on .EST;
  4. Why ".BEST"?
  5. Best and Food;
  6. Best and Products;
  7. Best and Entertainments,
  8. Best and Services;
  9. Best and Co;
  10. Google Trends score:
    1. Score: 97/100;
    2. Best vs Price.
  11. HOT: dotBEST and SEO:
    1. .BEST and Google;
    2. .BEST and CTR (Click Through Rate);
    3. .BEST and Bounce rate;
    4. .BEST and Dwell Time (time on site);
    5. .BEST and Pages Per Visit;
    6. .BEST and Conversion rate;
    7. Conclusion.
  12. Examples of ".best" domains indexed in google.

Download the White Paper here.


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Second UPDATE: Registries and Law Enforcement Agencies

It often requires a court order for an accredited registrar or a registry (ccTLDs, legacy and new gTLDs) to respond to a security threat and when going through an online procedure, it can take...months.

Procedures to stop a phishing operation for example have to go through filling several online forms or sending an email to a registry or a registrar, then wait for something to happen. Such situations are a nonsense since a phishing operation should and could be stopped instantly by "taking down" the domain name.

Changing the status of a domain at the registry level can stops the domain name hosting the phishing operation from working and investigations can then start.

Why are procedures blocking simple things like stopping a phishing or homograph attack from being possible when this could be done instantly? Threats attempts are not going stop, and they're not going to decrease neither.

Law enforcement agencies
These agencies don't do things to be more profitable, nor they have a financial interest in doing their job. They don't work for a client, and if they have one, it is the civil society: these agencies contribute to tracking criminals, stopping pedophiles, terrorists and other persons who think that they can hide behind a fake profile or a domain name.

These agencies should be treated differently when contacting a registry since they contribute to saving lives and not increase the income of a private company.

A dedicated point of contact
Registries seat on top of the pyramid when it comes to domain name infringement: they are the legal entity to take the technical action on a domain name: they can press the button for something to happen FAST.

I often contact registries and found almost no direct contact for law enforcement agencies, which have to stand in line and use the standard contact forms or abuse emails. I believe that this could change since phishing and homograph attacks are becoming more and more sophisticated. The increasing number of new gTLDs won't help lowering these threats in the future.

The ICANN answer
I asked ICANN the following question: "Which working group at ICANN can help national law enforcement agencies to work on the creation of a direct contact at registries for major threats?"

If I noticed that such point of contacts exist at an extremely limited number of registries, I also noticed that such question could be raised at the ICANN for the benefit of consumers. The ICANN answered me and I was offered to look at a certain number of organizations:
  • The Anti-Phishing Working Group, which did not answer the last email that I sent them when I informed them about an ongoing phishing operation (this organization requires a payment of a membership);
  • The Messaging Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group that I never heard about and which also requires a membership payment too. They wrote "Recommendations for Preserving Investments in New Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs)" in January 2018;
  • The At Large Community (ALAC) which is "the primary organizational home for the voice and concerns of the individual Internet user in the ICANN processes". As a long time contributor to this community ("new gTLDs topic"), I didn't know that I was already in the place to have my question answered so I have questioned the ALAC staff.
Update
The staff answered me with the below:

"Thank you for your inquiry. Your topic of interest is broad, and several groups within ICANN discuss these issues.
Might I point you to related working group pages, where you may familiarize yourself with their issues and determine the best fit:
In addition, there is a page on the ICANN website with resources for Registry Operators. Please let me know if we may assist you further."

As expected, the answer received was fast and if I doubt that the GAC will help, the Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) might do so, so I sent a third email to the SSAS staff with this question: "I have the question below and wonder where national law enforcement agencies should debate to raise this question. Is the SSAC working group the right place where to start a debate and incite registries to provide a point of contact dedicated to national law enforcement agencies?"

Second update and final
ICANN answered me the below and I have to admit that...they answer fast for such an important organization. Surprisingly, following the publication of this post, I was contacted by "users" who have similar questions and...well...you don't need to know about the rest ;-)
The answer from ICANN:
I wish I had been given the name of a person to contact directly because, as you might have understood, I don't just do this for fun; but I guess that I'll dig i the SSR direction.

Monday, September 3, 2018

The .FAN new gTLD finally launches

I was about to entitle this post "the .FAN new gTLD re-launches" but in fact, it never launched: it existed...but never launched. The new gTLD report dedicated to Singular VS Plural new gTLD tracked registrations since 2016 but the Sunrise Period itself had not been announced and the Trademark Clearinghouse calendar says nothing about it until...recently. That might sound strange but some new gTLDs are in this exact same position: they've existed for years but they've not launched yet (the .CONTACT and .FORUM new gTLDs for example).

When
  • Sunrise Period starts: Tuesday, 2 October, 2018 - 16:00;
  • Sunrise Period ends: Saturday, 1 December, 2018 - 16:00.

What
Extracted from the application submitted to the ICANN, Donuts, which announced the acquisition of the TLD in June 2018, does not say much about the benefit to use a ".fan" domain name: "This TLD is attractive and useful to end-users as it better facilitates search, self-expression, information sharing and the provision of legitimate goods and services. Along with the other TLDs in the Donuts family, this TLD will provide Internet users with opportunities for online identities and expression that do not currently exist." and it also says things like"This TLD is a generic term and its second level names will be attractive to a variety of Internet users. Making this TLD available to a broad audience of registrants is consistent with the competition goals of the New TLD expansion program, and consistent with ICANN’s objective of maximizing Internet participation."

I personally like the descriptiveness ot the TLD since the word "Fan" makes no doubt about what you will find behind such a domain name.

Singular or Plural?
There is another .FANS new gTLD ("fan" with an "s") which already has 1,500 something domain names registered and since the risk is high to use such a domain name without owning the exact same second level domain in both versions of the extension, I would suggest to buy two domain names instead of just one.

Good to know
And if you are a sports' fan, the restricted .SPORT new gTLD launches its Sunrise Period tomorrow.

Friday, August 31, 2018

New gTLD reports have been updated

I just finished the update of all new gTLD reports for the month of August/September 2018. New domain name registration volumes are an opportunity to check if end users register domain names or not. We recently added two new reports: Luxury and Music:
  1. New gTLDs related to CATERING and RESTAURANTEERING
    (.restaurant - .kitchen - .bar - etc...)
  2. New gTLDs related to PHOTOGRAPHY
    (.photo - .film - .gallery - etc...)
  3. New gTLDs related to CITIES : these are city names only
    (.paris - .london - .tokyo - etc...)
  4. New gTLDs related to COMPANIES : new domain name extensions that we believe a company should keep its eyes on.
  5. New gTLDs related to the LAW and LEGAL matters
    (.legal - .attorney - .lawyer - etc...)
  6. New gTLDs related to FINANCE
    (.credit - .capital - .finance - etc...)
  7. New gTLDs related to a COLOR
    (.orange - .pink - .green - etc...)
  8. New gTLDs related to SPORT
    (.hockey - .basketball - .ski - etc...)
  9. New gTLDs related to ALCOHOL
    (.beer - .wine - .vodka - etc...)
  10. New gTLDs related to REAL ESTATE
    (.realestate - .realtor - .villas - etc...)
  11. Singular VS Plural versions of a new gTLD : these are domain name extensions which exist in their singular and plural version (ie: .gift and .gifts)
  12. FRENCH new gTLD applications : these are applications submitted by French companies only;
  13. New gTLDs related to RELIGION
    (.catholic - .bible - .church - etc...)
  14. New gTLDs related to CARS
    (.taxi - .auto - .car - etc...)
  15. New gTLDs related to HEALTH
    (.health - .doctor - .hospital - etc...)
  16. New gTLDs related to ADULTS
  17. Multiple Registries : group of Registries operating five (5) and more domain name extensions;
  18. NEW - New gTLDs related to the MUSIC community
    (.music - .band - .hiphop - etc...)
  19. NEW - New gTLDs related to LUXURY
    (.rich - .yachts - .chanel - etc...)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

New gTLDs "Today": a new communication channel

I recently noticed that 150 members are following the new gTLD info on the Google+ community that I created a few years ago. Basically, I post the exact same info as on the LinkedIn new gTLD group.
A different channel
I am reopening this communication channel because it is simple, efficient and some still use it. It is also quite fast for me to post an info there: it requires a link and a title (I often add a picture).

You should click here to be invited and note that it requires to join to be able to post. As usual, I try my best to moderate publications and do reject everything that has nothing to do with the subject of new gTLDs. And again: selling domain names there is not accepted, there are many other places to do that.

Which information channel?
Many exist but I created five of them:
  1. A newsletter where I send 100% of the news found on Internet and related to new gTLDs (new gTLD domaining excluded);
  2. A Blog: the gTLD Club (my blog);
  3. My Twitter account;
  4. The LinkedIn group about new gTLDs (2,700 subscribers);
  5. The Google+ Community (100% of the news published in the Newsletter).
New gTLDs "today"
When desperately lost searching for the latest news about new gTLDs, I suggest to try this reminder:



Sponsors welcome
We have become quite efficient when it comes to ensuring that an information "about new gTLDs" is seen: we talk to/about new gTLD service providers but they are certainly not the majority to read what we write. Potential and existing applicants also read us. For example, this publication generated quite some buzz recently, this one too. We look for one single sponsor in each of the categories below:
  • A Backend registry provider;
  • A Registrar solution provider;
  • A Corporate or Retail Registrar;
  • An escrow service provider;
  • Trademarks are also welcome to sponsor us;
  • New gTLD and legacy Registries are also welcome.
Please contact us if you are interested.

Monday, August 27, 2018

The .PAGE Sunrise Period starts

It takes long but the Charleston Road Registry, wholly owned by Google, is launching another of its Top-Level Domains.

When:
  • START: Monday, 27 August, 2018;
  • END: Monday, 1 October, 2018.

Purpose of the gTLD:
Extracted from the application, the proposed gTLD will provide Google with direct association to the term ʺpage.” The mission of this gTLD, .page, is to provide a dedicated domain space in which Google will offer landing pages providing links to specific types of content. For example, the second level domain front.page may provide access to timely news content, sports.page might provide a collection of sports-related information, and business.page would aggregate content related to business and finance.

More infos:

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

ICANN did not approve some .BRAND new gTLDs

The first round of the ICANN new gTLD program officially launched with no real methodology dedicated to ".brand" new gTLD applicants and - early before applying - some service providers (like myself) had no idea what to answer their clients when they asked: "do you mean that all registrars will be allowed to offer my domain names?"

Specification 13
The specification 13 was then created to change that and it became more clear how to differentiate a new gTLD dedicated to selling domain name (like .CLUB) and a .BRAND dedicated to the personal use of a Trademark (also called "dotBrand" new gTLD).

If the official list of the ICANN new gTLD applications does not specify which TLD is a Trademark and which is not, the complete list of specification 13 applications (for Trademarks) can be checked and one will notice that most requests were granted but some were not Approved or Withdrawn.

Not approved
The reason why some Trademarks were not approved is not explained and in many case, it is because the application was withdrawn by the applicant. Some, were not approved but the extension was delegated:
  1. The .POLITIE new gTLD (Police from Netherlands);
  2. The .MOBILY new gTLD;
  3. The .BOOKING new gTLD;
  4. The .OFFICE new gTLD from Microsoft;
  5. The .ORIENTEXPRESS new gTLD;
  6. The .GOOG new gTLD from Google;
  7. Etc...
No comments
In the process to become eligible for a specification 13 application, the registry has to provide ICANN with an accurate and complete copy of his trademark registration and his request can receive a comment.


Very few comments were sent:
  1. A test was done in May 2014;
  2. A question was asked about the .MAN new gTLD in December 2014;
  3. Nine comments were sent about the .FOOD new gTLD in October 2015.
As of today, this represents 10 comments for a total list of 490 contracted dotBrand new gTLD applications.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

How do New Domains impact SEO: the report


The report
This is a report from India based multiple registry Radix on how new domains impact SEO. Questions covered are:
  • New domains and SEO - What is the connection between the two?
  • What do the users have to say about the impact of new domains on SEO?
  • What do SEO experts have to say about the impact of new domains on SEO?
  • Is Google using new domains?
  • What are some known facts about new domains and their impact on SEO?
  • What are the best practices for moving from one domain extension to another?
  • Does the age of a domain name matter in SEO?
The report can be downloaded here.

Radix Registry
"Radix" is a multiple registry to have applied for several new domain name extensions such as .TECH - .PRESS - .SITE - .SPACE and .HOST. The full list of the TLDs it applied for is available on its website. It is the third largest new gTLD operator with 2,533,086 domain name registrations (July 2018) for a total of nine extensions.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Luxury and new gTLDs: the report

We have identified new domain name extensions connected or related to luxury: there are international trademarks and generic terms. The strings concerned are:
  1. .VIP
  2. .GOLD
  3. .CASINO
  4. .DIAMONDS
  5. .BEST
  6. .LUXURY (s/p)
  7. .RICH
  8. .YACHTS
  9. .WHOSWHO
  10. .GUCCI ®
  11. .CHANEL ®
  12. .OMEGA ®
  13. .HERMES ®
  14. .LUXE (s/p)
  15. .CARTIER ®
  16. .RICHARDLI ®
  17. .PIAGET ®
  18. .ORIENTEXPRESS ®
  19. .LIMO
  20. .FERRARI ®
  21. .MASERATI ®
  22. .BUGATTI ®
  23. .BENTLEY ®
  24. .LAMBORGHINI ®
The .RICHARDLI new gTLD is an interesting domain name extension since it is the only TLD worldwide to be the first name and family name of a person.


Most of the trademarks represented by the "®" sign have one domain name registration only and the .LUXURY new gTLD is now also available in French.

The monthly report is available in English and in French. Would we have forgotten to add some strings, please tell us. This report will be updated on a monthly basis at the end of the month.

Friday, August 10, 2018

A complete guide to SEO and new gTLDs

I tend to download most guides dealing with new gTLDs that I find on Internet but I admit that I never read them all completely. The reason for this is that there is nothing new and the guides are often used as promotion tools. This one, from English backend registry Nominet, is 8 pages and I made the effort to read it until the end.

These are the topics covered:
  • What TLDs are and why organisations are using them;
  • Different types of TLD and how they can be used;
  • Benefits of TLDs including: improved brand recognition, better online security and more;
  • How Google and other search engines treat new gTLDs;
  • Explanation of ‘DotBrand’ – a particularly powerful type of gTLD for global organisations;
  • How organisations are embracing new TLDs for greater SEO benefit.
And this is what you will find inside:
  1. Introduction
  2. A beginner's guide to Top Level Domains
  3. The introduction of new gTLDs
  4. What is a .BRAND ?
  5. How do search engine treat new gTLDs
  6. Interesting: SEO tips effectively utilizing a .BRAND
The last point on SEO tips utilizing .BRAND domain name extensions is one that I found interesting: it is short but it is a must read for applicants with the intention to use their extension. Such section should be read before creating the first ".brand" domain name.

Missing
It is always interesting to read what one provider can add to such guides but I found that the new URL redirection strategy used by some .BRANDs was not covered.

A dotBrand Top-Level Domain is a powerful tool for branding mixed with SEO, not SEO only: a trademark will be able to do SEO without its own extension using other domain names that will probably cost a lot less money.

Download the guide
The guide can be downloaded on the Nominet website. Nominet is a backend registry service provider for 37 new gTLDs. It offers service to extensions such as the .VIP registry with more than 800,000 domain names registered, .BLOG - .LONDON - .BEER and .BENTLEY

Monday, August 6, 2018

Solutions for failing niche new gTLDs

A niche TLD is a domain name extension created specifically for a certain market or subject. Let's imagine that you were a leader in a specific financial subject and that you decided to operate the domain name extension representing this subject: THIS WOULD JUST BE A VERY BRIGHT IDEA because once the slot is taken, no one else can take it. A new gTLD is unique and there can be one registry worldwide.

"Yep: but no one buys our domains"
What if, after a certain number of years, you realized that your domain names just "did not sell" and no one bought them in the industry in which you are a leader? This is a problem that some registries are facing but in the case of niche TLDs, not generic ones, there are solutions to change this.

It does not sell? Change the method!
Some Multiple Registries, who operate five and more domain name extensions, have targeted niche terms because they are leaders in their industry. Again, this is a very good idea to demonstrate leadership in a business but if no one buy domains, the approach and method should be changed.

"Yeah right: then what?"
In some case, it cost a lot to maintain a registry and I noticed that some multiple registries just "dropped it" and their domain name registration volumes are...decreasing. I also noticed that some multiple niche registries have all the tools to develop their domain names again. So, here are suggestions on what to do:
  1. Lower the price: change the price at the backend registry. If you already "don't sell", one of the reasons (not the only one) is probably because the price is too high at the registrar and if you don't lower that price at the source (your backend registry), it won't lower at the registrar.
  2. If you are stuck with a bad contract (at the backend), hire a specialized lawyer to find a way out of this because if you can't find a deal with your backend registry (which I doubt), your registration volumes won't increase and you will have to change your backend just because of this. You need volumes of domain names installed and if you don't have that: no one knows that you exist. When you meet with your lawyer, ask him if selling your TLDs to another legal entity, or changing hands (to a subsidiary of yours or a complete different company) wouldn't be a solution to get rid of your contract to another backend registry solution provider.
  3. Announce the change of price when it is validated with your backend registry: registrars should follow you on this and announce it to their clients.
  4. Some have the tools: did you check your own tools? Some industry leaders are online and offline marketing specialists but neither use their own TLDs for their websites nor use their own tools to promote their extensions! Use your own tools: it is your teams' daily job to promote things on internet to your niche industry! If I had SEO specialists, and/or web designers within my company, I would put them in the same room for a brainstorming with that question: "it cost me "X" per website and domain created": "what can you suggest to help me sell the services of my company using our own domain names?". Give domain names and content to a SEO specialist, he should know what to do with it.
  5. Acquisition costs: "$1000 for a client introduced" is something that I read at a new gTLD niche TLD. When killing the cost of a domain name at the backend registry, such an amount of money allows to put a lot of domain names on the market with a basic introduction to a service. Some will call this spam (unless each content is different), some will see back-links, some will want redirections. But is also means:
    1. Visibility: a lot more websites and domain names on the market;
    2. A lot more chances to acquire consumers for a service;
    3. A reduced cost for the niche registry to use his own domains since part of the price paid to the registrar gets back in his pockets.
  6. Innovation: we've seen that some registries domain name registration volumes stagnate and a reason for this is "not" that registrars don't do their job, registrars have too many strings to offer and potential consumers (registrants) don't buy anymore the way they did when we launched the .EU registry back in 2005. The solution is in innovation and some registries are quite creative at the moment. As a leader in your niche industry, who better than you, knows how to innovate? As the operator of the string representing your niche, you stay one step ahead so why not innovate using your string?

Friday, August 3, 2018

The .LUXE new gTLD is here

We are already familiar with the .LUXURY new gTLD and its 880 domain name registrations. Well, his French friend has just arrived: the .LUXE new gTLD. Two languages are now covered: French and English.

In a statement, MMX, the multiple registry in charge of launching this Top-Level Domain wrote: "The ICANN-approved .luxe extension is set to shortly enter its pre-launch phases ahead of going on sale to the public from 30 October 2018."

Silimar TLDs:
Just for the note, this domain name extension is listed in my highly consulted list of similar domain name extensions.

The innovation:
"LUXE" seem to stand for "Lets U Xchange Easily" and the registry website says that the TLD is "The first open, Top-Level Domain created to combine Ethereum blockchain innovation and security with ease-of-use for today’s world – the .luxe standard that “lets you exchange easily” smart contracts, crypto and other blockchained products."

Dates:
Extracted from the ICANN web sites, I found other important dates:
  • Sunrise Period: 09 August 2018 to 08 October 2018;
  • Trademark Claims Period: 30 October 2018 to 28 January 2019;
  • Limited Registration Period (LRP): 9 Oct 2018 to 25 Oct 2018.
This Sunrise Period should soon be officially announced on the Trademark Clearinghouse calendar.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The .LAMBORGHINI new gTLD and SEO

While updating the CARs new gTLD report, I noticed that the .LAMBORGHINI new gTLD, a dotBrand domain name extension, added a lot more new domain names ending in ".lamborghini". It went from 33 in June to 172 in July: that is a lot for a .BRAND new gTLD.

A new SEO trick
Many trademarks applied for their own domain name extension "to be the first" or just to protect their assets. Some applied to use them and increase the number of websites ending with their personalized domain names.

".lamborghini" domains are indexed in Google
The Lamborghini trademark seems to have a different use of its own domain names. If I was skeptical  about it in the beginning, I now tend to think that using domain names as redirections is better than nothing.


To have the results above to appear in Google, I entered "site:.lamborghini" (without quotations). This is a way to check which domain names are indexed. In the case above, the results show:
  1. Domain names indexed in google and ending in the name of the Lamborghini trademark;
  2. 172 of them.
If that helps generating more backlinks to the official website, that's better than nothing. I suspect that this is the first approach to generate traffic...before the trademark kills the ".com" definitely at some point to redirect it to a .LAMBORGHINI front page.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The .BEST Crypto-Currency

The BestCoin token is the upcoming crypto-currency being developed by the recently acquired .BEST registry.


One could think about "just another crypto-currency" being dropped to consumers on the Internet but the concept here is quite innovative from what we've seen before. The BestCoin crypto currency makes sense because of the "territory" it becomes a part of:
  1. a Digital Territory (".best" domain names);
  2. a Crypto-Currency (the BestCoin token) and;
  3. a Community (a new social network technology).
This combination will allow some owners of a ".best" domain name to generate an income from their reviews and traditional Registrants will also be able to choose to use their domain name in a traditional way for their website.

A detailed article was recently published about the .BEST crypto-currency: "A Mobile Payments Social Network? The Best SAS May Be Working On It".

The .קום Sunrise Period starts

The IDN translation is: "--9dbq2a" and Google translates it as "get up":
  • SUNRISE PERIOD START: Monday, 30 July, 2018 - 16:00;
  • SUNRISE PERIOD END: Tuesday, 4 September, 2018 - 16:00.

We previously announced this Sunrise Period here.
Read the Trademark Clearinghouse's calendar for more.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Best SAS acquires .Best TLD in Strategic Deal

PeopleBrowsr, a San Francisco based technology company, announced today the sale of its BestTLD Pty Ltd subsidiary to The Best SAS, a Paris based company led by President, Cyril Fremont.

BestTLD Pty Ltd owns the .Best top level domain. It has distribution agreements with GoDaddy and over 50 other Domain Registrars.

The sale has been approved by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).

The .Best TLD has been acquired as a core component of a decentralized search optimized social network, where participants will be rewarded with .Best cryptocurrency for reviewing best in class products and services.

Jodee Rich PeopleBrowsr’s CEO said “This is a strategic deal for PeopleBrowsr. It provides us with a good return on our 2014 Best TLD investment and a partner who’s roadmap is aligned with our own. We believe in Cyril and his team. They are using three new technologies - Top Level Domains, Social Networks and Blockchain to create an economy between Buyers and Sellers “

Cyril Fremont said “We are giving the consumer their own domain name, an integrated website where they own the data, and rewards for their contribution to the community. Platforms like ours continue to move negotiating power between reviewers and sellers

French culture is synonymous with best in class consumer products, so, .Best was the obvious choice for the project.

The Best SAS received financial support for the purchase from investors, the French government’s BPIFrance, and Spring Legal Lawyers: Frédéric Boucly said “This venture is a global technology play. Mr Fremont has a proven track record”.

PeopleBrowsr Background
PeopleBrowsr is a San Francisco based technology company founded in 2008. It has earned over $20M in revenue.

Its core technology, SocialOS is a Blockchain integrated platform for the rapid development of social applications.

Institutional clients include the US Department of Defense, a major bank and government entities.

PeopleBrowsr acquired 3 gTLDs in ICANN’s first round, .CEO, .Best and .Kred, and has progressively implemented SocialOS technology across each namespace.

CEO Jodee Rich, is a thought leader in the technology industry. He has spoken at many conferences and believes that the integration of blockchain and social networks will give more power to individuals and small business.

The Best SAS Background
The Best SAS is the first and only French company to own a new Generic Top Level Domain. It was founded by major shareholder PREMLEAD.

PREMLEAD is an online marketing company that fuel online sellers with premium leads using a network of+50.000 websites worldwide and a unique web content technology.

CEO Cyril Fremont, is working as an Internet Entrepreneur since 1996. After starting his career in the Silicon Valley, he co-founded or participate to 3 major successful IPOs : INTERSHOP, ARIBA, SIDETRADE.

It took Five years to Cyril Fremont to complete the .Best acquisition.

The Best will be the first Registry to own its own TLD, CRYPTO and SOCIAL NETWORK.

Download the full Press Release

Just announced: the .PAGE Sunrise Period

The Trademark Clearinghouse just announced the .PAGE Sunrise Period (from Google).

When
  • START: Monday, 27 August, 2018 - 16:00;
  • END: Monday, 1 October, 2018 - 16:00.


What
What the application submitted to the ICANN says:
The proposed gTLD will provide Google with direct association to the term ʺpage.” The mission of this gTLD, .page, is to provide a dedicated domain space in which Google will offer landing pages providing links to specific types of content. For example, the second level domain front.page may provide access to timely news content, sports.page might provide a collection of sports-related information, and business.page would aggregate content related to business and finance. Charleston Road Registry expects the gTLD to be a hub for content categorization and discovery that will assist in Google’s mission of organizing the world’s information. The proposed gTLD will improve the Internet for consumers by providing a namespace in which they can explore content relevant to various themes that they may find interesting. It creates new layers of organization on the Internet and signals the kind of content available in the domain.
More
  1. The registry: www.nic.page (points to Google registry)
  2. The application: https://gtldresult.icann.org/applicationstatus/applicationdetails/511
  3. The official Sunrise Period details: http://www.trademark-clearinghouse.com/content/page

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A new Sunrise Period starts

Donuts Inc, launches the .CHARITY new gTLD's Sunrise Period.

When
  • START: Tuesday, 10 July, 2018 - 16:00;
  • END: Saturday, 8 September, 2018 - 16:00.
What
What the application submitted to the ICANN says:
"The .CHARITY TLD will be of interest to the millions of persons and organizations worldwide involved in philanthropy, humanitarian outreach, and the benevolent care of those in need. This broad and diverse set includes organizations that collect and distribute funds and materials for charities, provide for individuals and groups with medical or other special needs, and raise awareness for issues and conditions that would benefit from additional resources. In addition, the term CHARITY, which connotes kindness toward others, is a means for expression for those devoted to compassion and good will. We would operate the .CHARITY TLD in the best interest of registrants who use the TLD in varied ways, and in a legitimate and secure manner."
More
  1. Application details are available here;
  2. The official announcement from the Trademark Clearinghouse is available here.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The IGF rebrands using a .SPORT

Extracted from an official communication of the International Gymnastics Federation, the FIG just annouced that it relaunched its website with an innovative new domain name: Gymnastics.sport
The International Gymnastics Federation is proud to be the first international sports federation to change its domain name with a switch to the innovative .SPORT extension. From now on, the FIG website, which has been entirely developed in-house, can be accessed via the address www.gymnastics.sport.

The Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), registry of the .SPORT new gTLD, also shows the example changing from its original ".org" domain name to a ".sport" one: www.gaisf.sport

Monday, June 25, 2018

New gTLDs are political and religious assets

We often mention branding when referring to new gTLDs but since these also strongly refer to an identity (when comparing to ".com"), they can have a strong impact on the visibility of a specific community on Internet; no matter if some communities are sometimes not accepted, neither...liked, nor considered by their opponents.

What a new gTLD community really is
Whatever the type of application that was submitted to the ICANN (generic, community or geographic), some new gTLDs represent communities of a specific area or geographical zone but according to the definition one has of a community, such new gTLDs can become efficient communication tools for a community to expand and increase its visibility on Internet:
  • a city like the .PARIS new gTLD which is for the city of Paris (France) and allows the creation of domain names such as www.earthhour.paris.
  • a population like the .CORSICA new gTLD which is for the diaspora of Corsicans around the world. Note that Corsica is a French island which has initiated discussions with the French government to become independent.
  • a religious community like the .CATHOLIC or .MORMON new gTLDs.
  • a community like the .PERSIANGULF or .PARS

The .PERSIANGULF new gTLD
This application submitted to the ICANN is a generic one, neither a geographic nor a community one: it means that anyone may register a domain name ending in ".persiangulf". The application is on "on-hold" status at the ICANN, it means that there is a problem with it. The applications explains that: "The origins of the ethnic Persians can be traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples..." and there is a long explanation of who the Persians are. It also refers to "Ancient Iranian peoples" and the exact geographical zone represented by the Persian Gulf. As you can imagine, this can be a problem when you disagree on who a geographical zone belongs to in the history of the human kind. Of course, I am absolutely not referring to Palestine.

Some governments do not want the company to have applied to the .PERSIANGULF new gTLD to be the one to operate it, and the reason for this is probably politico-religious rather than economical or a trademark problem. The Persian Gulf community seems to be a political and religious problem to some governments and would this new domain name extension see the day, it would legitimate everything that the application says. It would also open the possibility for this community to multiply its visibility on Internet launching websites ending in ".persiangulf". That is where the real problem is for this application.

A problem with "Persians" maybe?
The Chairman and CEO of the CITRA (Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority in The State of Kuwait), who represents a country to have opposed the .PERSIANGULF new gTLD application, recently wrote to the ICANN explaining that, according to him, "this domain name extension is not in the public interest of the internet community". He gives several other reasons such as:
  1. the name reflects a disputed name for the Arabian Gulf;
  2. he was not consulted prior for the application to be submitted;
  3. he believes this extension does not represent the interest of the targeted audience.
I believe that the reasons given in this letter hide the fear that such a community could develop; it confirms that a new gTLD can be a very strong political or religious asset. The letter ends urging the ICANN to terminate this application.

The .PARS new gTLD
This application was delegated and already allows the registration of domain names ending in ".pars" (not ".paris"). Persians can register domain names ending in ".pars" anyway.

Conclusion
New gTLDs are one of the most powerful and efficient tool the Internet has produced in the history: it allows to publish a message right into any search engine, without even having to offer the end user to visit a website. Printed on any document, sends a factual information to a reader too.

Some registries (the one to operate a new gTLD) are restricting the access to their domain names to to allow their community only to register them; but history has shown that restricting "just does not work" since volumes are necessary too. Opening a domain name extension "to everyone" is the best way to install it on Internet since it makes it more simple to register a domain name. Restricting a new domain name extension is a strategic mistake in the case of a community who would want to develop unless in very specific areas such as banking and a few others.

Think I am wrong? Then I wonder why more and more Top-Level Domains, Country Code Top Level Domains included are getting rid of their restrictions ;-)

Just announced: the .קום Sunrise Period

The Trademark Clearinghouse just announced a new Sunrise Period. The new gTLD concerned is a Transliteration of "com" in Hebrew, an IDN.


The mission of this new gTLD
Extracted from the application: "the primary mission of the Hebrew transliteration of .com is to improve the user experience by offering a fully internationalized domain name (IDN) that includes a transliteration of .com. This gTLD is intended to serve users whose primary language is based in Hebrew script."

When
  • START: Monday, 30 July, 2018 - 16:00;
  • END: Tuesday, 4 September, 2018 - 16:00.
More
The application can be downloaded from this page.
The official announcement from the Trademark Clearinghouse is available here.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Coming fast: the .SPORT new gTLD

The .SPORT new gTLD is coming and all businesses related to sport will be offered a chance to register a domain name ending in .sport (instead of ".com").


This is an extract of the latest publication from the Global Association of International Sports Federations:
  • A select group of Ambassador websites will go live during Summer 2018, becoming among the first ever at .sport;
  • A consolidated launch period will run from September 4 to November 6, 2018;
  • General Availability will begin on January 8, 2019.
Premium pricing applies during the consolidated launch period. Standard pricing will apply starting with General Availability.

Read the full announcement at the GAISF.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

When the Backend Registry is too expensive

What we call a "backend registry" is the mandatory technical platform to operate a domain name extension and all registries have one. It is the backend registry that allows accredited registrars to technically sell domain names for each extensions.

The question here is: what happens to a registry, who sells domain names to accredited registrars, when his backend registry solution provider is too expensive?


Creating your backend registry solution
In 2008, I remember going to a .BRAND meeting with Stephane Van Gelder and a technical guy told us: "we don't need a backend registry, we have enough resources to do it ourselves". Well...one can try to do it so for the next round of the ICANN new gTLD program - and there are tools for this - but I would certainly not recommend it for three reasons:
  1. It requires serious skills to develop a backend registry platform;
  2. It requires to pass the ICANN tests;
  3. It's awfully expensive.
How to lower the expenses
There are less than 10 solution providers that I would work with worldwide, and the reason why I would not create my own backend registry solution is simple: the more your new gTLD project costs you, the more you will be tempted to increase the price of your domain names. Accredited Registrars, the ones Registries sell their domain names to, will have to take a margin so they will increase the price too, and here is what happens next:
  1. The final price at the Registrant level (the person who buys the domain name) will be higher than a ".com"; it may be be a bad sign sent to new consumers: "hey, why should I pay more for a domain name?". Remember that the average price known by consumers for a domain name is between $10 and $12;
  2. It will make your registry more difficult to develop in volume of domain names if your target is the general public. For domain names to meet with adoption: "use" is needed but "volume" is needed too to increase its visibility on Internet.
Think twice about creating your own backend registry solution: it will drastically increase the price of your new gTLD project.

Note that 500 registries have less than 10,000 domain names registered but is this what a new registry wants when creating a new domain name extension? I stopped counting at 200 domain names registered (June 2018) to exclude .BRAND new gTLDs from this approximate calculation.

Less than $2 per domain
Backend registry service providers offer different range of services but there is now stronger competition between them and offers should change for the next round of the ICANN new gTLD program. Prices should change too and there are three parameters that I will focus on when selecting a backend registry provider:
  1. One price per domain name "only" should constitute the offer: a registry which wants to gain recognition cannot be blocked from lowering the price of his domain names because the annual financial commitment with his backend registry is too high: let's not forget that the more domain names a registry puts on the market, the more it benefits the backend registry.
  2. No leaving fee: the knowledge to operate a registry relies a lot on the backend registry solution provider but it has now become easier and, for example, one might be tempted to change to a Chinese solution provider to access the profitable Chinese market with a MIIT licence. Once you're blocked with an important leaving fee, it blocks you from spending this money to find a better solution: a Chinese backend registry solution provider will be very efficient combining complementary solutions for you: the backend registry solution + the MIIT licence for example.
  3. A "minimum annual commitment"? I read this fee at a service provider (...) With the number of registries to have launched at the same time in 2012, how can a niche TLD survive when it sells less than 1,000 domains a year (also because its retail price is already too high)? Added to a leaving fee, it makes it almost impossible to develop. For some, it means going "bankrupt". By the way: a backend registry asking for a minimum annual commitment does not care about the success of your project.
Note that such offers already exist: some providers have adapted to the market. It costs less than $1 for certain registries to create a domain name: "the lower the price is at the backend, the lower it will be for your clients".

If the backend registry is too expensive...it will impact the final price of your domain names and it is unlikely that new consumers will want to pay more than $12 to buy them. Registration volumes seem to confirm this: when new gTLD registration volumes are low, it is also because the price of domain names is often too high, the reason is that.

Monday, June 4, 2018

May 2018: new gTLD reports are up-to-date

  1. New gTLDs related to CATERING and FOOD
    (.food - .recipes - .rest - etc...);
  2. New gTLDs related to PHOTOGRAPHY
    (.photos - .movie - .pics - etc...);
  3. New gTLDs related to CITIES
    These are city names only (.koeln - .dubai - etc...);
  4. New gTLDs for COMPANIES
    Extensions companies should register their domain with;
  5. New gTLDs related to the LAW and LEGAL matters
    (.abogado - .law - .partners - etc...);
  6. New gTLDs related to FINANCE
    (.cash - .fund - .financial - etc...);
  7. New gTLDs related to a COLOR
    (.black - .blue - .red - etc...);
  8. New gTLDs related to SPORT
    (.baseball - .tennis - .dance - etc...);
  9. New gTLDs related to ALCOHOL
    (.vin - .wine - .beer - etc...);
  10. New gTLDs related to REAL ESTATE
    (.condos - .maison - .realty - etc...);
  11. Singular VS Plural versions of a new gTLD
    Extensions existing in their singular AND plural version;
  12. FRENCH new gTLD applications
    These are applications submitted by French companies;
  13. New gTLDs related to RELIGION
    (.islam - .halal - .mormon - etc...);
  14. New gTLDs related to CARS
    (.audi - .lamborghini - .cars - etc...);
  15. New gTLDs related to HEALTH
    (.care - .vision - .hospital - etc...);
  16. New gTLDs related to ADULTS
    (extensions related to pornography and more);
  17. NEW - Multiple Registries
    Group of Registries operating five (5) and more domain name extensions;
  18. NEW - New gTLDs related to MUSIC (.music - .guitars - .hiphop - .broadway - etc...)

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Trademark Clearinghouse: latest stats

The Trademark Clearinghouse statistics for May 2018 have been released:
  • 44.155 trademark records submitted;
  • 117 countries covered;
  • 129 jurisdictions covered;
  • 169,265 trademark years;
  • 262,414 claims notifications;
  • 809,867 ongoing notifications;
  • 13,119 trademark records have expired.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

New gTLDs: City vs Family name

When applying for a new gTLD, what happens if two applications for the extension are a city and a family name?

Which one wins?
Let's imagine that a person whose family name is "Marseille" applied for the .MARSEILLE new gTLD in the next round of the ICANN new gTLD program. What if there was a .MARSEILLE new gTLD too but as the name of the French city?

When the Family name is the name of a city
Even if the ICANN new gTLD applicant guidebook did not allow persons to submit an application in the first round, anyone could create a company using his or her family name and submit his application: this was perfectly legal and will probably remain like this in future rounds of the program.
Note that there is an existing case: it is known that one applicant applied for his first name and family name as a new domain name extension in the first round of the ICANN new gTLD program: it is the .RICHARDLI new gTLD.

Now: what happens when your family name is the name of a city?

"Marseille" is a famous French family name
A friend of mine's family name is "Marseille" and I wondered what would happen if he created a company named "Marseille" - or if he trademarked his family name like I did - and decided to submit a new gTLD application in the next round of the ICANN new gTLD program. Such an application could receive an objection from the French city of Marseille or he could object to the city's application too but - precisely - what could happen in such case of a conflicting geo/family application?

Some experts answered the question:
  1. John McCormac from HosterStats.com (the biggest domain and webhosting statistics site):
    "That's a legal question but I would think that the rights of the city could take precedence unless there is a lot of strong IP/TM rights supporting the family name application. The city may be able to object but there may be multiple cities sharing the same name with families. And then it may come down to which city is oldest. Think Paris, France versus Paris, Texas".
  2. Dirk Krischenowski from dotBERLIN GmbH & Co. KG (the .BERLIN registry):
    "If you apply the rules of the 2012 AGB (we don’t know to which extend the 2020 AGB may have changed in this respect) the answer for family names that match capital city names is clear: you need a letter of support or no-objection from the relevant city authority.
    If the applied-for family name is a city name but no one, even not ICANN’s geographic names panel, objects the application may go through smoothly. If you search at www.geonames.org for instance for Monash, Norton, Lancaster and many other .brand applications you will find names of municipalities with the same name. But all the applications were going through, the same of many generic term gTLD.
    And then there is a large grey zone where there had been not many cases (like .spa) where the city objected but was not found by ICANN to fall into the geographic names category.
    I hope I could give you guidance to you question."
  3. Roland LaPlante, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Afilias (multiple registry for 20 new gTLDs):
    "The issue of geo-names such as city names is currently under active discussion in the Government Advisory Committee and other stakeholders in the ICANN community. I expect that, in the event of a conflict between an individual and a city, the city would win. This is because the city will usually have become the official owner of the name in some manner (e.g. in the ISO3166 list), and the official list trumps other claims. Further, if the city does not apply and the individual does, the individual must get permission from the city to proceed with the name."
I will add more answers when they come.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The .ICU Sunrise Period ends

The .ICU new gTLD Sunrise Period ends today:
  • SUNRISE PERIOD END: Thursday, 24 May, 2018 - 14:00;
  • CLAIMS NOTIFICATION PERIOD START: Tuesday, 29 May, 2018;
  • CLAIMS NOTIFICATION PERIOD END: Thursday, 30 August, 2018.

More details are available on the TMCH Calendar.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

New gTLDs, New Measures

This is a copy-paste of a recent 3 pages letter sent from the Brand Registry Group to the ICANN. You will find the link to download the original letter down this post. Potential .BRAND new gTLD applicants will certainly love its content.
The letter:

"At ICANN61 it was refreshing to hear from the variety of registry operators that have been working hard to make a success of their new gTLDs. In the Cross-Community session “A Walk in the Shoes of a New gTLD Registry Operator” the measures of success demonstrated by the 1 different registries were noticeably different to those of legacy TLDs, which often focus on a very narrow measure; the volume of domains under management.

Many of the new registries launched from the 2012 application round are not driven primarily, if at all, by the number of domain names they manage. Instead, they have a stronger focus towards registering domains for purposeful and positive needs. Examples covered during the ICANN61 cross-community sessions highlighted the following:
  • Brand TLD (dotBrand) registries do not have a revenue-based motive for operating a registry; it is a cost borne by the business to provide a stronger platform to manage their online presence, communications and business operations. It is a trusted space that is controlled and operated from the registry operator at the root of the Internet all the way through to delivery to Internet users.
  • Highly-restricted TLDs, such as .bank and .pharmacy, apply strict controls from verification of registrants through to higher standards of operation within the Top Level Domain environment, providing assurances to users and confidence that they are dealing with legitimate organisations. These communities self-regulate their registry, applying levels of controls far in excess of the minimal requirements you find in open, commercial TLD registries.
  • Geographic TLDs, particularly capital cities, such as dotBerlin, have developed TLDs with a strong sense of community and purpose, something shared by other generic-termed TLDs, such as .art and .design.
Zero-abuse
Importantly, we also heard how the ability to operate a registry with strict controls over who can register domains and how they can use the domains has a positive effect for Internet users by minimising abuse and confusion. Significantly, no domain name abuse or domain name infringements have occurred within dotBrand and highly-restricted registries, something that should not be overlooked or disregarded as a measure of success for New gTLDs.

This "zero-abuse” is an important factor for the domain industry as it moves into an active GDPR environment in May 2018. Concerns raised by governments, law enforcement, intellectual property protectors and security organisations, in the context of investigating and responding to domain abuse and infringements, become irrelevant where a registry operates without any abuse.

Quality not quantity
Domain names have long been treated as a commodity, providing low-cost and low-risk opportunities for acquiring domain names, absent of any need for a purpose or intention of use. Whilst many domains exist in legacy TLDs and ccTLDs are registered for a valid purpose and intent, they share rent with thousands of other domains that are registered with the desire to mislead, confuse or defraud Internet users. In response to these negative behaviours, volumes of domains have expanded, unsurprisingly, for protective purposes to counter trademark infringements and abuse across gTLD and ccTLD extensions.

Volume, therefore, is not necessarily a reasonable measure of success. Context and the scope of use is also an important factor.

A registry operated as a dotBrand may have a handful of domains registered but these could support a global organisation’s online business, communications and much more, serving millions of Internet users. A highly-restricted registry, such as .bank, may have a few hundred registrations, with verified registrants and stringent security controls associated with using a their .bank domains. Both examples are of registries that have a sense of purpose, a backbone, that ultimately provides safe and trusted environments for online users. They do not need high volumes of domain names to provide these benefits or to sustain their registry.

Long-term aims, not short-term gains
These successes highlighted in the cross-community session should not be a surprise, the intention of the New gTLD Program was to promote choice, competition and innovation. We are now witnessing the positive effect of these new registries that are performing effectively and with a sense of purpose. This is not by accident, but derived from long-term strategies and delivered with enthusiasm and commitment of these registry operators.

Regrettably, we often hear of complaints of the New gTLD program being slow to gain traction. But this ignores the introduction of different models, models that have different ambitions than simply replicating what we have seen before, models that compete in different ways, models that safeguard Internet users (not just registrants) and models that will unlock further innovation in the DNS.

Next opportunity for New gTLDs
Despite the promise of launching “subsequent gTLD application rounds as quickly as possible” after the 2012 round was launched and “within one year of the close of the application submission period”, there is no clear indication from ICANN when the next opportunity to apply will begin, with six years having already passed.

Organisations that did not apply in 2012 in the anticipation that they could apply 12-24 months after, have been misled by ICANN’s intent. Before risking further loss of faith from prospective applicants, ICANN should set a deadline for the next application window to start. ICANN should be more proactive in meeting its commitments and allow new applications to commence within a reasonable published timeframe.

Notwithstanding the incredible efforts of the community to conduct New gTLD reviews and policy improvement programs, six years is already a significant and embarrassing gap between application rounds, a gap that continues to grow. No doubt there are some complex issues involved, derived from the experiences of the 2012 round. However, for the majority of applications there were few or no issues, or those issues were resolved as part of the post-application process and prior to delegation. On this basis, it should be reasonable for ICANN to move forward and prepare for a new application round.

Even if ICANN limited the next round to certain types of applicants this would help ICANN to continue to promote choice, competition and innovation, following the years of delay. The criteria could, for example, be limited to the types of registries considered to be low in risk of domain abuse and infringements, thereby safeguarding users. In other words, these types of registries could be regarded as “in the public interest”.

However ICANN chooses to progress to the next round, the application window needs to be sooner rather than later. The demand exists but may wane if ICANN does not deliver on its commitment.

ICANN Budget & Reserves
Recognising the years of work that have already been consumed in relation to New gTLD reviews and policy development, it was alarming to hear that the ICANN budget drafted for FY19 was absent of any funding to support preliminary implementation work for the next application window, even though the GNSO Subsequent Procedures PDP work should be completed before the financial year concludes.

This oversight may have been caused by the budget constraints in response to runaway costs over the preceding few years that has affected the level of reserves, but it is also short-sighted. With demand for more TLDs, ICANN could drive forward the next application window in a reasonable timeframe, providing new revenue streams to support the organisation longer term. At the very least, this should be signalled by ICANN by way of anticipating implementation work to begin during FY19, along with a suitable budget.

A positive reflection, time to do more
The Brand Registry Group (BRG) hopes that you and your Board colleagues are encouraged by the examples of different New gTLD operators that were presented during the ICANN 61 crosscommunity session, and acknowledge their different perspectives of success. It is important that the Board is aware of these different models and how they can have a positive influence on the domain industry.

We also hope the Board can leverage these use cases and their benefits to be more confident in driving forward with the next application round. The continuing absence of a target date strongly indicates a lack of commitment and confidence from the Board to deliver against the intention of the Applicant Guidebook. To this point, the BRG would encourage the Board to take the initiative and set a target date for the community and potential applicants to work towards.

The BRG is aware of and continues to participate within various policy development activities to help improve the application process in future. We also appreciate that the next round requires planning and implementation work that will, in part, be directed or influenced by the outcome of these community work activities. Nevertheless, this should not prevent ICANN from planning and developing the implementation work based on previous practical experience, input from the community during the GNSO PDP Subsequent Procedures PDP, and, where necessary, predicting the likely outcome of these discussions. This should be supported with appropriate resources and budget and commence at the earliest opportunity.

The time to do more is long overdue."

Read the letter (PDF download)

Register your Trademark using an agent.