Monday, June 14, 2021

Keep an eye on GoDaddy Registry for the next Round of the ICANN new gTLD program. Here is why.

The next round of the ICANN new gTLD program is coming and applicants will need to select a backend registry provider. This publication is not a paid one and I am not pointing to one specific provider. This is just "what I would do" if I needed to select a service provider in the two cases below:

  1. A backend Registry for a .BRAND new gTLD application;
  2. A backend Registry for a new gTLD project dedicated to selling domain names, whatever type of application: community, generic or geographic.

Which .BRAND new gTLD Backend registry provider?

I often wonder why Trademarks have to pay more for the exact same service as other standard users. In this example, I am referring to registries who sell domain names. My explanation here is that the second type of applicants usually has a team in place with knowledge and it is not necessary to pay for a certain number os services a .BRAND applicant would pay for. This is why the first type of applicant should pay more: the new gTLD procedure - whatever type of application - is one that requires knowledge in the long run. When the knowledge is not there...someone should pay for it. I guess it is why .BRAND applicant types should pay...more.

When it comes to the price, technically speaking, it is the exact same at the backend registry level. If you have one paid created domain name or 1 million, the process is the same so the price should be to me per domain name: it is the type of pricing I would look for as an applicant. Price can actually be below $1 per domain name created.

I would personally hunt for the cheapest offer at any provider with references. I am familiar with providers' blabla and as long as mine can help me reach out to the interface where I can press the button and create my personalized domain names, OK with me. I would also be careful with things such as ICANN reporting, compliance, monitoring, and escrow: my provider should be able to deal with these questions (note that some have a cost). Also, most backends can help you connect directly at your existing registrar so the technique should not be a problem.

Which new gTLD Backend Registry provider to sell domain names?

What I am going to write should probably not please everyone but this would be my way of thinking if I had to select a backend registry. There is one thing that I noticed about the first round of the ICANN new program: none of the applicants projections were there in terms of sales volumes. A new gTLD applicant who wants to "sell" domain names should select a backend registry that has the capacity to help him sell; and selling is very hard to achieve when creating a new registry. No, you will not sell one million domain names per year in the next round.

There are already many known names in the industry: many ccTLD providers offer such service, Core, Centralnic...but there is one that I am really following closely for this one very specific reason: selling should be the number one objective.

In the first round of new gTLDs and even today, all registries wanted to have their domain names on the number one selling platform worldwide: a Registrar. A Registrar is where domain names are sold to final end users (Registrants).

Yes, there is one major Registrar and it is the number one in terms of volumes. When a registry sells domain names, his domains need lots of visibility and the best visibility to receive is to be present on that number one selling platform worldwide. The problem here is that there are lots of registries, some with niche extensions of no interest, and ALL want to exist at THIS Registrar and at the same time. This Registrar is GoDaddy, it has a small frontpage but it serves the world: it is there where you want to be to sell your domain names fast.

Good news, following the acquisition of another provider, this Registrar is now a Backend Registry too and this is recent.

If a Registry (which includes the choice of a backend registry provider) is not allowed to differentiate Registrars in terms of pricing or whatever other service, it does not mean that it cannot instantly allow his client to appear at his Registrar and it is precisely this that I would negotiate with GoDaddy Registry if I were to become their client: "sign me in but have me at your Registrar in the long run, and on front page for at least a few months".

Remember that not all domain names extensions are available at GoDaddy and there is a reason for this:
  • There are too many extensions with low volumes (which also means that they are not profitable enough for GoDaddy),
  • Be on front page of GoDaddy is probably not a free service so why would GoDaddy bother about an extension...which is hosted at another backend registry provider? Wouldn't you focus on your client's success instead of those of another provider? Of course you would.
  • Also and that is very important, GoDaddy can generate an income thank to its famous Registrar but also now, thank to its backend registry service so again: why bother about adding an extension to its Registrar platform where it would earn on the Registrar service only (selling domain names)?
  • Adding a new extension requires time and effort.

What Backend Registry offer I would consider:

  1. A full offer where the backend registry also submits and follows the submission of my application at the ICANN: not a third party nor a lawyer with no ICANN knowledge.
  2. Knowledge of my provider about a possible objection and how to face it.
  3. A capacity to accredit my extension at the backend registry's Registrar(s) if it has any. Note that many backend registries are not public Registrars and Registrars are the mandatory network to sell domain names.
  4. A provider who has passed the ICANN technical accreditation: if there are more than 1,000 applications in the next round, no one knows if all applications will be submit and validated. What about those new backend registry providers who are not yet accredited by the ICANN: wouldn't it be less risky to select one that is already accredited?
Note that this is a personal thought on how I would think to select a backend registry provider. Since it is yet too early to submit an application, most offers are not available online and even when they will be, not everything will be written so there will be space to negotiate. I also hope this publication will help backend registries to build their offers. Note that some backend registries sold their business...but there are new comers approaching.

How exciting :-)

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Just terminated: the .QVC new gTLD

Extract from "Registry Agreement between ICANN and QVC, Inc." written by lawyers of QVC, Inc:
"...We write to provide 180 days’ notice that QVC, Inc. (“QVC”) will terminate the Registry Agreement between ICANN and QVC, effective July 30, 2015 (the “Agreement”), pursuant to Article 4.4(b) of the Agreement. Accordingly, the Agreement will be fully terminated on October 9, 2021. 
We note that the “.qvc” Top-Level Domain (the “TLD”) was never used, and the only domain names on the TLD are those that were required by ICANN upon the creation of the TLD – and – both of which are owned by QVC. No additional domain names were ever created. Thus, pursuant to Article 4.5(ii) of the Agreement, ICANN may not transition operation of the TLD to a successor registry operator. Additionally, pursuant to Article 4.5(i) of the Agreement, we note that QVC has trademark rights over the name “QVC,” which is also the name of the TLD. A list of the trademark registrations including the name “QVC” owned by QVC, through its wholly owned subsidiary ER Marks, Inc., is attached as Exhibit A".
Extract from the Preliminary Determination by ICANN to Not Transition Operations of the .QVC gTLD (dated: 4 June 2021):
"On 26 April 2021, QVC, Inc. notified ICANN org of its intent to terminate the .QVC Registry Agreement entered into on 30 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 QVC, Inc. to assess whether to transition operation of the .qvc 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 .qvc 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. .qvc 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. The deadline to submit input is 04 July 2021 – 23:59 UTC".


Sunday, June 6, 2021

Catering new gTLDs in May 2021

We are in May 2021 and some domain name extensions in the Catering and Culinary businesses show a positive progression curve: it is not the case for all of these TLDs but basically, most have their registration volumes to develop.

The .BAR is open

Registration figures have literally exploded for the .BAR new gTLD: from a 133,284 registrations in January 2021, it kept growing to 355,437 in May 2021. This is high for such a small TLD and I wonder if the COVID has something to do with this.

Expensive food TLDs

There is a strange fashion which consists in paying a fortune for TLDs with one single domain name registration. The ICANN still shows delegated extensions with one or two domain name registration. For example, the .EAT and .FOOD are just there...waiting with no use. The .FOOD new gTLD still shows a GAC early warning...which's been there forever. I wonder if anybody somewhere cares about these TLDs in limbo. Come on...someone is paying for this?

Too perfect progression curve?

I once noticed that domain name registration volumes from multiple registry Donuts had a strange - almost exact and precise - progression curve which was too perfect to be true. Of course, this is just my imagination. Good point for this huge financial operation: their .CAFE - .COFFEE - .KITCHEN - .PIZZA - .RECIPES but .RESTAURANT have progressed in volume since January 2021.

The .FAGE dotBrand new gTLD

FAGE is about yogurt and shows an interesting use of its 62 domain name creations: most are dedicated to a country. For example, is for Belgium and for France. All domain names are secured with a SSL certificate and I found no redirections to a legacy domain name extension (such as ".com"). This is clearly what I believe a dotBrand new gTLD is made for.

Catering IDN new gTLDs: a bad match

From the 20 Top-Level Domains of the Catering and Culinary new gTLD reports, two are IDNs which respectively demonstrate that IDN new gTLDs don't have their place in the modern world - at least in the Catering and Culinary businesses: both ".food" and ".restaurant" IDNs have had less than 100 registrations since the two applications were delegated by the ICANN many years ago.

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