Tuesday, April 28, 2020

UPDATE: the .MEET new gTLD

Just updated (27 April 2020)

Would Google be preparing the "After Covid-19" period with this update on the .MEET new gTLD? This is what the ICANN just published for the .MEET new gTLD Sunrise Period:
  • Sunrise Period: 25 May 2020 to 24 Jun 2020;
  • Trademark Claims Period: 25 Jun 2020.


Surprisingly - and again, I think I have an idea but I wish that someone else could explain this - the official application is pointing to the .MEET application from Afilias: a competitor of Google Registry: both are Registries and Back end Registry solution providers so I guess that .MEET is probably not going to use Afilias' platform for its operations. 

What the application says

I will get back on this if I have an explanation but I extracted the content below from the application from Afilias since it is the only one available:
There is currently a proliferation of online dating and companionship services on the Internet. Research shows that there are over 1,500 Internet dating sites in the U.S. alone, creating confusing choices for consumers. Most consumers do not have the time, money, or desire to use the services of more than a few dating services. As a result of this fragmented industry, consumers have limited choices of people to select from when they seek their ideal date or the perfect companion.

The purpose of .MEET is to create an Internet namespace which could be used by visionary entrepreneurs and⁄or the existing online dating and companionship matching providers to become the gathering place on the Internet for many of the more than 40 million online companionship seekers.

This new online namespace could be used to create a .MEET portal destination to facilitate the creation of secure, confidential and easily accessible Internet identities to enable Internet users to find registrars to become registrants of .MEET.

.MEET domains could also appeal to organizations supporting the online dating and companion industry. Online dating and companionship services may be interested in obtaining a .MEET domain to differentiate their services from other businesses that are now using a .COM, .NET, .INFO or other all-purpose TLD.

Registrars could collaborate with leading industry vendors to create new and never-before possible services to leverage the unique and easily identifiable .MEET registrant. Using existing or new offerings, .MEET registrants may want to create personalized, secure and anonymous Internet identities to make themselves easily discoverable by the entire universe of online relationship seekers.

The .MEET domain name and the registrants that obtain the .MEET TLD would help to catalyze a more efficient online dating and companionship service on the Internet. Using simple match-making features, large numbers of .MEET registrants, over time, could motivate visionary entrepreneurs or a visionary industry player to provide a more complete, market-driven service for consumers.

People would quickly come to know that others are actively seeking relationships and they can become easily discoverable under a .MEET domain. Over time, facilitated by new apps and virtual communities, visionary entrepreneurs, registrars and new and existing industry players, using proven social media capabilities, could help .MEET registrants to create more and better content to expand the size of the virtual community they serve. As the .MEET TLD is increasingly adopted and content accrues, search engines could modify their algorithms to specifically target .MEET sites and content, making the TLD even more accessible, relevant and useful. Due to these dynamics, we anticipate that we could have 15,000 domains under management (DUMs) after three years.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

The .RIGHTATHOME new gTLD was terminated

ICANN answer to Notice of Registry Operator Request for Termination of Registry Agreement - .RIGHTATHOME new gTLD.

On 18 March 2020, Johnson Shareholdings, Inc. notified ICANN org of its intent to terminate the .rightathome Registry Agreement entered into on 23 July 2015.

Pursuant to Section 4.4(b) of the Registry Agreement, Registry Operator may terminate the Registry Agreement for any reason upon one hundred eighty (180) calendar day advance notice.

Pursuant to the terms of Section 4.5 of the Registry Agreement, as modified by Section 6 of the Specification 13 (.Brand TLD Provisions), ICANN org consulted with Johnson Shareholdings, Inc. to assess whether to transition operation of the .rightathome top-level domain (TLD) to a successor Registry Operator.

Subject to an ongoing evaluation, ICANN org has made a preliminary determination that operation of the .rightathome TLD need not be transitioned to a successor Registry Operator. ICANN org’s review and determinations regarding transition to a successor registry are subject to Section 4.5 of the Registry Agreement (as modified for a .Brand TLD).

ICANN org’s preliminary determination to not transition the TLD to a successor Registry Operator is based on the following rationale:
  1. .rightathome qualifies as a .Brand TLD.
  2. Transitioning the TLD is not necessary to protect the public interest.
In conformance with Section 4.5 of the Registry Agreement (as modified for a .Brand TLD), ICANN org may not delegate the TLD to a successor registry operator for a period of two years without the Registry Operator's consent, which shall not be unreasonably withheld, conditioned or delayed.

Before releasing its final determination, ICANN org will consider input provided by interested parties via email at (email_was_modified_here@icann.org. The deadline to submit input is 20 May 2020 – 23:59 UTC.

This is standard procedure to terminate a new gTLD application.

Read the full request from SC Johnson on LinkedIn.

Friday, April 10, 2020

UNR and GoDaddy Registry

"We're preparing for the next Round"

There have been many announcements recently: Uniregistry (the Registrar) being acquired by GoDaddy and GoDaddy acquiring another Registry's business with Neustar Registry: isn't this a preparation for the next round of the ICANN new gTLD program? "Oh yes it is".


Many followed the news when GoDaddy acquired most of Uniregistry's business (the Registrar and domaining business marketplace, as well as the CEO's domain name portfolio). It is an announcement when a Registrar acquires another. In this deal, GoDaddy acquired all BUT the Registry and Backend-Registry businesses from Uniregistry. It means that Uniregistry kept these two businesses. Since Uniregistry ("Uni" ?) now belongs to GoDaddy, it now makes sense to change name, and that new name is "UNR" (which seems to mean "Uni Naming and Registry). I like short names but please, get rid of "Uni" because in becomes confusing.


GoDaddy, the number one Registrar in volume of domain names registered, and which acquired Uniregistry, also acquired a Corporate Registrar named Brandsight but it is still unclear to me if this acquisition was to acquire the company's portfolio or if it plans to do develop a serious Corporate Registrar offer for its clients. Note that this would be welcome.
GoDaddy which had a "Retail Registrar" identity is now developing other identities: the Corporate Registrar one and the Registry one too (I would like to add the Backend-Registry identity too but the Neustar Registry acquisition remains unclear about this business).

Note that I make a difference between the Registry's business and the Backend-Registry's one since one is the governing body of a domain name extension selling to Registrars, when the other is the tool to allow the Registry to create domain names and there is a financial connection between those two: the Backend-Registry usually sells to the Registry; because most Registries cannot afford (or have the technical knowledge) to own their technical solution. They usually sub-contract this operation.

GoDaddy Registry

Very recently, GoDaddy made the acquisition of a major player's business named Neustar Registry: not "Neustar" but its Registry's business only. This is a major announcement because GoDaddy was not present in the first Round of the ICANN new gTLD program. It applied to its own dotBrand (the .GODADDY new gTLD) but never used it. The funny thing is that its  .GODADDY domain name extension is operated by another Backend-Registry provider (...) which is not Neustar Registry (I would understand that this changes soon).

Now GoDaddy plans to become a major player in the new gTLD business, this could hurt a lot the Corporate Registrar's businesses since they were the one to offer the .BRAND application nad management service to their clients, subcontracting the technical part to Backend-Registry solution providers such as Neustar Registry. Note that Neustar was neither a Corporate nor a retail Registrar - and GoDaddy is already a Registrar, the most important one worldwide. Getting into that business means that future new gTLD applicants (.BRAND - Cities and Entrepreneurs) could be offered a key-in-hand-solution, having their digital assets operated by the same service provider, all in one place:
  • A Registrar (Corporate or Retail) for their domain name portfolio management: all possible operations in all TLDs (legacy TLDs, almost all new gTLDs and almost all ccTLDs);
  • A Registry (.BRAND - Generic, Community or Geographic TLD) for the technical operations of their new gTLD:
    • .BRAND domain names operated in the exact same place where they manage their other domain names;
    • Tools to operate a Registry dedicated to selling domain names to the general public maybe? Note that the solution provider to offer that service would probably be king, we learnt a lot from the first round of the ICANN new gTLD program and the complexity around the understanding of the process and the submission of an application were a serious issue: the provider to simplify that and what comes after...gets my serious attention.
  • All other solutions (website hosting and marketing, email, brand and domain name monitoring, security, etc...) invoiced in the same place!

My thought on all this

UNR keeps the Registry and Backend-Registry's businesses but recently announced that it intends to develop it. The word that I read in a press release was "dotBrand" by its CEO, and my understanding of this reading is that UNR will be present in "Round two" of the next ICANN new gTLD program with a new gTLD probable offer for entrepreneurs but also - and more precisely - for Trademarks with an offer for .BRAND new gTLD applicants. This is an important information for me because there won't be so many service providers with an offer around. Let's hope that they will consider the French market (JC: reading this?)

The strange thing about all this is that GoDaddy acquired someone else's business for the Registry and Backend Registry's businesses (Neustar) so there must be a reason behind this. The positive thing is that UNR will be in competition with GoDaddy for its Registry offer(s) and "price" is what made Uniregistry a good service provider because it was "cheap" (it was cheaper to buy a domain name with Uniregistry than Godaddy) so let's hope that their Registry solutions will be cheaper too.

What about Google Registry?

I stand-by because Google, not only offers a free technical registry platform (the Back-End Registry solution) but it also became a Registrar in 2014 and its domain name business is developing fast. Google also operates its own Registries on its technical platform so the only thing that is missing...is an offer. Round two is a little far away but no one can tell if there won't be an offer in a close future. Note that I already asked Google the question in 2017 and the answer was "no". For those interested in digging in that direction or looking for who's working on an offer, I'd suggest to check Nomulus.foo.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

HOT: GoDaddy acquires new gTLD Business

Some news deserve to be published and the word to be spread so I apologize for doing the below (my first copy-paste of a press release):

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., April 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- GoDaddy Inc. (NYSE: GDDY), the company that empowers everyday entrepreneurs, today announced it is acquiring Neustar Inc's Registry business. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. The deal is expected to close in Q2 2020.

The Neustar Registry business features a high-performance backend registry technology platform and enhanced domain security systems that enable people and brands to seamlessly connect and transact online with speed, security and reliability.

"GoDaddy is committed to helping everyday entrepreneurs bring their ideas online with the best possible domain name choices," said GoDaddy Chief Operating Officer Andrew Low Ah Kee. "Neustar's registry platform enables us to accelerate that commitment and provides enhanced scalability for future growth. For more than two decades, GoDaddy has used its consumer insight to drive innovation in the domain industry and we'll continue to do so by creating more choice and value for consumers."

The new service will be called GoDaddy Registry and will be led by Nicolai Bezsonoff, currently Senior Vice President and General Manager of Neustar's Registry business. As part of the transaction, GoDaddy will strictly adhere to a governance model that maintains independence between the GoDaddy registry and registrar businesses. GoDaddy has worked closely with both registrars and registries for more than 20 years to help grow a healthy and competitive domains market and it will continue to do so for the benefit of consumers and the industry.

Commenting on the acquisition, Mr. Bezsonoff said, "Our team is thrilled to join the GoDaddy family. We share a strong history of partnership and collaboration with GoDaddy that spans two decades. Additionally, we have the same values, a common culture of innovation, and a mutual vision for empowering individuals, businesses and brands to succeed online."

The Neustar Registry business includes an extensive portfolio of top-level domains, including .biz, .co, .in, .nyc and .us, and supports more than 215 TLDs and approximately 12 million domains. This includes its Managed Registry Services business that provides end-to-end registry management for over 130 brand TLDs and 70 generic TLDs.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP acted as legal advisor to GoDaddy.

About GoDaddy

GoDaddy is empowering everyday entrepreneurs around the world by providing all of the help and tools to succeed online. With 19 million customers worldwide, GoDaddy is the place people come to name their idea, build a professional website, attract customers and manage their work. Our mission is to give our customers the tools, insights and the people to transform their ideas and personal initiative into success. To learn more about the company visit www.GoDaddy.com.

Source: GoDaddy Inc.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

.SELECT and .COMPARE Sunrise Periods Start

Two Sunrise Periods are starting today 06 April 2020 and will end on 06 May 2020.

Both TLDs belong to iSelect in Australia, a company offering various Insurance services. The Trademark Claims Period for .SELECT and .COMPARE is the same: 06 May 2020 to 05 August 2020.

To learn more:

New gTLD Registry Software by Google

Google now has an official page for the introduction of its free backend registry solution entitled "Nomulus".
Nomulus is the Google solution for new gTLDs such as :
  • .FOO
  • .HOW
  • .NEW
  • .SOY
  • .みんな
  • and a few others.
It previously used Nomulus.foo to redirect to the URL of its free code available for download on GitHub, but there is now an official URL (and logo) presenting the product.

Good to know

When launching a new gTLD , the below is required:
  1. The Company (and team) to operate the Registry;
  2. Applying for the required TLD at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which means writing the application on the basis of the new gTLD Applicant GuideBook (AGB);
  3. The mandatory ESROW service provider;
  4. The mandatory backend registry solution provider: Nomulus is the code to create such a technical solution, it does not offer the service to maintain a registry technically. This is very important to understand prior to applying since the backend registry solution provider is one of the most important aspect of a new gTLD project.
Reminder: note that the free Nomulus solution created by Google is just the code, it requires to host the solution and maintain it and Google does NOT offer that service.

Surprisingly, the GitHub repository delivering the Nomulus code also advertises for other technical solutions.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Wipo new gTLD Decisions

Many are already familiar with the official World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Domain Name Decisions' website, which you can subscribe to, to receive a list of these decisions. Each "recent" notified domain name decision is a mix of legacy TLDs (such as ".com" for example), country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) and new generic Top-Level Domains (new gTLDs).

At the new gTLD's Club, we only pay interest in new gTLDs so, this new content entitled "WIPO new gTLD Decisions" will deliver links to decisions using a new domain name extension only.

.BRAND new gTLD Reports are updated once a month: CLICK HERE !