Domains consultation

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

This week 2020Media attended the London ICANN consultation on new top level domain names (gTLDs) at RIBA. The event was well attended, with many people flying from all over Europe and beyond to have their say.

ICANN is seeking people’s views on the introduction of potentially hundreds of new top level domains (.eco, .city, etc) especially with regard to protecting brand names.

Many big brands have resisted the idea of new domains entirely, but having accepted they will happen, are now attempting to ‘reserve’ their names and trademarks so they can’t be registered by anyone apart from themselves.

In recent ccTLD launches, there’s been quite a high price put on domains in the so-called Sunrise period by the registries, and this is something the brands want to avoid.

On the other hand, trademarks exist in classes, they are not global (so Apple Records and Apple Computers can both have trademark on ‘Apple’, in their respective business areas). So if a new domain is launched, why should the man in the street not register apple.eco, providing they don’t start passing themselves off as an Ipod reseller.

New Domains – London Event

ICANN, the top level body responsible for the internet, is holding a consultation in London this July.

The consultations will facilitate on-going discussions with the Internet community regarding workable solutions to some of the outstanding, overarching issues, particularly trademark protection and malicious behavior, on the proposed new tranche of domain name extensions.

All events are free of charge and you can find out more and signup at the ICANN website

ICANN updates

ICANN has approved a new contract for it’s registrars.gradlogo

One addition that caught my eye was the curious wording regarding requiring domain registries to use ICANN accredited registrars. Up to now it’s been a requirement that anyone running a top level domain has to offer that domain only through ICANN registrars. They’ve now clarified this as follows

ICANN has ordinarily required gTLD registries under contract with ICANN to use ICANN-accredited registrars, and ICANN will during the course of this agreement abide by any ICANN adopted specifications or policies requiring the use of ICANN-accredited registrars by gTLD registries.

I find the wording rather tortous. It’s NOT saying they WILL require registries to use ICANN registrars. It’s leaving it open to future amendments and policies.

New Domains

How successful have recent new domain launches been?

.me relaunched to the worldwide public in June 2008, and now claims to have 250,000 registrations.

.tel launched to the general public only on March 23 2009, and claims 200,000 registrations.

.eu  launched April 2006 and has reached 3,000,000 domains.

Are these numbers are success? And by what standard do you rate success?

Let’s compare with other country-code domains. The statistics indicate that most country-specific domains have 1 million or less domains registered. Only a few countries have more than this (China, Germany, the UK and the Netherlands are notable). For the registry operators in these regions, a large number of domains registered is counted as a mark of success.

However other registries with relatively small numbers of domains registered also boast of success. Their view is that countries like the UK have a large number of inactive or ‘parked’ domains registered. In Ireland however every domain registration must be justified, leaving a much ‘cleaner’ registry – there are just 125,000 .ie domains registered.

So from the point of view of the consumer, typing in a .ie domain means you more likely to end up where you expected, rather than a .uk or .de domain where you may well end up on a page full of ads.

Do we really need more domain extensions? The idea behind ICANN’s push to allow anyone to come up with an idea for a new extensions and start selling domains is arguably fair, and levels the playing field against incumbent gorillas like Verisign (.com and .net), but what will consumers and end-users get out of it? So far, .tel is the only new domain that has tried to offer something different.

.tel is not about websites or email. It’s like a people directory – you store your contact information in your .tel domain (hosted on .tel’s servers) and the idea is that future communication devices will lookup your contact information from the .tel domain. So far there’s little penetration of .tel software onto mobile phones and PDAs, but if they are to succeed this is essential.

We look forward to other innovative uses of new domains – more of the same would be a waste of this opportunity.

New gTLD sightings