.web

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Status: Proposed
Manager: NU DOT CO LLC
Type: Generic TLD
Category: Technology

.web is a proposed new generic top level domain name (gTLD) to ICANN's new gTLD expansion program. On 28 July 2016, NU DOT CO LLC won right to the string with the winning bid of $135 ICANN auction of last resort.[1][2] The $135 million dollar bid more than tripled the highest amount previously paid in an ICANN auction.[3]

Shortly after the auction, Verisign announced that it had funded NU DOT CO LLC's bid and anticipated that the Registry Agreement would be assigned to Versiign pending ICANN's approval.[4]

Applicants

  1. Web.com
  2. Radix (Web.com Group, Inc.)
  3. STRAAT Investments (NU DOT CO LLC)
  4. Schlund Technologies GmbH
  5. Afilias (Afilias Domains No. 3 Limited,)
  6. Google (Charleston Road Registry Inc.)
  7. Donuts (Ruby Glen, LLC)

Auction Controversy

In early July 2016, applicants Radix and Schlund Technologies GmbH requested that the .web auction be postponed to investigate reports that another applicant, NU DOT CO LLC, had changed leadership.[5] After ICANN denied the request, Radix and Donuts filed a reconsideration request, asking ICANN to delay the auction "on an emergency basis" and conduct an investigation into NU DOT CO LLC's alleged change in ownership.[6]

After ICANN denied the joint Reconsideration Request, Donuts filed a $10 million lawsuit and a temporary restraining order in a final attempt to block the auction from moving forward.[7] Donut's request was denied in California court, allowing the auction to commence as scheduled on 27 July 2016, although the auction was not completed until 28 July 2016.[8]

Applications

Web.com

Some have said that Web.com has a strong case through the Legal Rights Objection because it owns the Web.com trademark. In a statement, Web.com CEO David Brown said, "We believe we possess the natural platform from which to successfully market the new .WEB top level domain since we are the sole owner of the Web.com trademark as issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office." [9] Brown also conveyed that he is open to a cooperative arrangement between more than one applicant, and that Web.com would be satisfied regardless of who wins the application.[10]

Radix's Early Warning

Radix received a GAC Early Warning as an entire applicant, where each one of the applicants was flagged by the U.S. Government. This seems to be the only time a portfolio applicant had all of their applications warned. The issue does not deal with the technical capabilities or thematic content of their applications, but rather the inclusion of an email address associated with the US' Federal Bureau of Investigation. It seems that Radix included correspondence with this address as a recommendation with each of their applications.[11]

Previous .web Applications & Current Contention

Image Online Design

.web was applied for in the 2000 first round of TLD expansion by Image Online Design. ICANN did not approve the application at that time, but IOD argues that it never officially rejected its application. Thus, in October 2012, IOD sued ICANN for breach of contract and trademark infringement. It is seeking an injunction to prevent ICANN from awarding the TLD to any of the current 2012 applicants, which does not include IOD, and also for profits from the alleged trademark infringement. The original application for .web was denied in part because IOD was already operating an alternative root using that TLD. They claim to still have 20,000 domains registered in their alternate root.[12]

On February 7th 2013, The United States District Court for the Central District of California approved a motion to dismiss the complaint from ICANN.[13]

Name Collision Issues

In October 2013 ICANN released their final assessment and mitigation plan for the Name Collision issue that was facing the New gTLD program. On 18 November 2013, ICANN announced the applied-for strings that were eligible for an alternative path towards delegation that would allow applicants to proceed without waiting for further mitigation research and plans to be published. 25 strings, including .web, were not eligible for the alternative path, and will have to wait for more plans to be published before continuing towards delegation.[14]

References