If ICANN Approves New TLDs, Applications Will Begin in January

New TLD application window slated to begin in January 2012.

ICANN’s Board of Directors is about to vote on approving the new top level domain name program.

One thing that’s clear is that, even if the program is approved, there’s still a lot of work to be done. The resolution being considered includes more discussions on registry-registrar separation, assistance to applicants that don’t have enough money, etc.

If it approves the resolution, the timeline will be as follows:

Today – communication period begins (marketing)

January 12, 2012 – officially opens, applications accepted

April 12, 2012 – application window closes

November 2012 – initial evaluations published


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ICANN: We Might Still Be Able To Approve New TLDs in June

ICANN: We Might Still Be Able To Approve New TLDs in June

Organization says it still might be able to move ahead with program next month.

ICANN’s Board thinks it might still be able to approve the new top level domain name program at the beginning of next month’s meeting in Singapore.

The approval was put into doubt after comments from government officials.

But ICANN and the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) just released a joint statement about another “productive meeting” between the two of them. The statement concludes:

The latest discussion and ICANN Board and GAC agreement on the benefits of having a face-to-face meeting in Singapore pave the way to possible Board consideration of program approval on 20 June 2011.

If the program is approved on June 20, I can guarantee you that ICANN will make significant concessions to the GAC between now and then. Those concessions will mostly be in favor of trademark interests.


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Confirmed: New Paul Stahura Venture “Donuts” is for Domain Names

Confirmed: New Paul Stahura Venture “Donuts” is for Domain Names

Stealth venture files trademark application indicating new domain name venture.

This past weekend we learned that four domain name industry vets, including eNom founder Paul Stahura, were forming a new company called Donuts Inc. The company raised about a million dollars of investment. Although the company is in stealth mode, the players involved make me think the four are starting a venture related to new top level domain names.

A trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office confirms that the company will be going after the domain name market — but doesn’t clarify that it will be for new top level domain names.

Donuts Inc. Executive Vice President Jonathon Nevett filed a trademark application on May 1 for “Donuts” for “Domain name registration services; Registration of domain names for identification of users on a global computer network”.

My money is still on new top level domain names.

 

 


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.hitachi … Another smart brand announces new TLD

According to a press release at GMO Registry, they’ve signed a deal with Hitachi to operate the .hitachi Top Level Domain name in the upcoming application period with ICANN.

“GMO Registry gTLD acquisition and operation support services chosen by global brand Hitachi to acquire and operate own brand TLD”

In my personal opinion, the brands coming out in support of the new TLD process are the thought leaders and innovators that we’ll see thriving in the digital economy.

Companies that embrace change (as opposed to fear based reactions) and are innovators who have embrace advances in technology and leverage things like social media, and who emphasize a robust online presence are seeing massive competitive advantage over companies that don’t in similar sectors.

Contrasting the application fee and other costs against a typical magazine or television advertising spend, a company gets a nearly perpetual benefit from the online presence that a new TLD provides, as opposed to a campaign that might last a week or a month.

I bow to Hitachi for this wise move, and I congratulate GMO Registry on this, the second major brand with a public announcement.

Source: http://www.gmo-registry.com/en/gmonews/detail.html?n=2011030200

$2 Million Wasted on Economic Studies for New TLDs

Economic studies about new top level domain names are futile.

Depending on which transcripts I read from the ICANN meeting in Colombia this week, ICANN has spent $1 million to $2 million on economic studies about new top level domain names to date.

This is money wasted. Not just because the reports — particularly the first two — were extremely weak. But because getting an answer will require too many baseless assumptions. In other words, the exercise is futile.

The first two major reports were a joke and seriously tarnished the reputation of ICANN. The first report from Dennis Carlton was a complete whitewash. It was like when companies commission a whitepaper to reinforce their stated point of view and pitch their product. Then ICANN paid more for Carlton to re-evaluate his first report. Not surprisingly, Carlton’s re-evaluation agreed with his first report.

Then ICANN turned to different lead researchers (although through the same main outfit) for another round. The new analysis is certainly better than the first. There’s plenty to find at fault with the latest “study”, but I think the conclusions are on target.

So Why is ICANN spending domain registrants’ money on these reports? Because it has to. In an effort to slow down or derail the new TLD process, opponents are making what I call the “economic study” argument. They say that the benefits and costs of introducing new TLDs must be quantified, or at least shown that the benefits outweigh the costs, before going forward.

This is impossible. We know there are potential benefits. And guaranteed costs. But figuring out what those are is never going to happen in advance of releasing new TLDs.

Benefits:

-Money for the domain channel. New TLD applicants make money, registries make money, registrars make money, ICANN makes money, domain bloggers make money from advertisements, and perhaps some registrants make money, too. That creates jobs and wealth. That’s a benefit. But your guess is as good as mine as to what this adds up to.

-A sense of community. Here I’m referring to both localized TLDs such as .nyc as well as — and more importantly — IDN top level domain names. I’d love to see someone try to put a number on what this is worth to the greater good.

-New ways to use the web. Supposedly some people have nifty ways to use TLDs that are outside the realm of what you can do with them today. I haven’t heard any that can’t be done on a plain-old .com. Seriously, I doubt anyone has thought of the killer application. Yet. But some day someone will. And it could be a game changer.

Costs:

-Trademark holders have to spend money defensively registering domains or even feeling compelled to get their own TLD. How much will this cost? Both sides have tried to quantify it. Proponents of new TLDs come in really low, opponents say it will cost the GDP of a small country. The truth is we don’t and can’t know. Consider this: will the cost be different if there are 10 generic new TLDs versus 500 new generic TLDs?

-User confusion. Lots of people will be confused when they see TLDs they’ve never seen before. They might end up at .com instead. How many people? What will the “cost” be to them? Will they end up getting phished? How much is their time and inconvenience worth? Yeah, put a number on that one.

-Costs to domainers. New rights protections may be abused and use to hurt legitimate domain name owners, even in .com. But then again, .com owners might get a flood of traffic from people looking for the .play equivalent. (I’m including this as a joke. It’s not like this would actually be considered in an economic report.)

-Legal challenges. A lot of money will be spent on lawyers. ICANN is setting aside a third of application fees for this. And there will be more governmental interference in the web. There’s a chance that ICANN could implode, landing the domain name system in a complete mess and control by another entity. Quantify that.

This isn’t a complete list of the benefits and costs of new TLDs. But even with this short list, I think it’s impossible to put a “real” number on it.


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ICANN Releases Another Economic Study on New TLDs

New study finds little chance for competition to .com, but some benefits from new TLDs.

Just a day after the U.S. Department of Commerce chastised ICANN for not undertaking a full economic study of the costs and benefits of new top level domains, ICANN has released phase two of its latest study (pdf).

A summary of the findings:

“…we find that additional generic, unrestricted TLDs using the Latin alphabet would be unlikely to provide significant additional competition for .com. However, because of their potential benefits—discussed below—differentiated offerings might provide such competition…”

“…we do not find evidence that scarcity of generic second-level domain names is a pervasive problem; in a high percentage of cases studied, generic terms are unregistered or unused on several different gTLDs. This pattern may arise because multiple TLDs and second-level names such as car, cars, autos, automobiles, etc. all are potential substitutes available to website creators.”

“although many of the benefits associated with Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) can be realized through the use of second-level IDNs, the benefits of top-level IDNs derived from reduced confusion, increased convenience, and the psychic benefits of inclusion could be meaningful. Second, the potential benefits from gTLDs that differentiate themselves either by being community-based or by employing restrictions on registrants or on the use of second-level domains within the gTLDs, could in, theory be substantial and, by their nature, the benefits of innovative new services are impossible to predict. However, as the case study of .mobi illustrates, the size of such benefits in practice will depend on whether there are other ways to achieve the primary objectives of the proposed gTLD, such as the use of second-level domain names or communication between servers and browsers that provide information that substitutes for the information conveyed by the use of the restricted gTLD.”

“We find that some intellectual property (IP) protection mechanisms implemented during a sunrise period can be effective in minimizing the number of claimed trademark infringements, but that poorly implemented procedures can result in large numbers of improper registrations, as happened in .info.”

“it appears that brand owners expend less effort to protect their brands on less popular gTLDs, which is the pattern one would expect if there companies suffer lower costs from infringing activities on less popular gTLDs.”


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