ROAR Domains

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Type: Domain Consultancy
Country: New Zealand
Key People
Hamish Miller, Director
Ryan Nelsen, Pro Soccer Player, ROAR Director
Brady Bohrmann, ROAR Director
Lara Meisner, Consultant
Kathy Kleiman, Legal Representation

ROAR Domains LLC is a New Zealand based TLD consultancy, seemingly focused primarily on New gTLDs. It has partnered with Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd. on applications for .rugby and .basketball, those two applications are further supported by governing bodies associated with the respective sports, The International Rugby Board (IRB) and the International Basketball Association (FIBA). Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd. has applied for 92 strings, including those on behalf of clients or in joint partnerships, 68 of those have been applied for solely on the behalf of TLDH.[1]

ROAR Domains v. Competition

In January 2013, Donuts published correspondence showing that ROAR Domains has been actively seeking ways to intimidate and see its competition disqualified from the string. This is in regards to both its .rugby and its .basketball bids, both of which are contested by portfolio-applicant Donuts. Thus, they are apparently pushing for Donuts to be disqualified outright from the New gTLD Program. Such criticism of Donuts have previously been based on allegations about poor domaining practice, such as claims that Donuts co-founder Paul Stahura was involved with an excessive amount of UDRP cases with his former company, eNom. ROAR Domains wrote to Donuts, saying, "while we have no desire to join the chorus of voices speaking out against Donuts, it is incumbent on us to pursue the automatic disqualification of Applicant Guidebook Section 1.2.1, and every opposition and objection process available to us." Section 1.2.1 focuses on the applicant background check. Additionally, the International Rugby Board wrote to Donuts, saying, "As the global representative of the sport and the only applicant vested with the trust and representation of the rugby community, we are unquestionably the rightful steward of .RUGBY.… Without the support of the global rugby community your commercialization efforts for .RUGBY will be thwarted. We are also preparing an objection to file against your application in accordance with ICANN rules to which you will be required to dedicate resources to formulate a response."[2]

ROAR seemingly also boasted about obtaining 4 GAC warnings on behalf of its applications and noted that the complaints should see their way through to official GAC Advice against Donuts and the other applicant, Famous Four Media.[3]

Donuts Responds

Donuts responded via Jon Nevett in a written letter to the U.K. GAC representative that it later made public on its website. While it is a response to the U.K. GAC representative it directly engages correspondence sent by ROAR Domains and the IRB. Jon Nevett argues that Donuts would be a better steward of .rugby as it has no vested interested other than in the health and security of the TLD, and not in the rugby related content. They note that .rugby seems to essentially be seeking community status even though it did not choose to apply as a community applicant. It further notes that it believes their threats that they will file objections in an effort to see their competition, including Donuts, thrown out. Mr. Nevett notes that he understands the logic and looks forward to a debate about what constitutes a legitimate objection. Lastly, Jon emphasizes that it is not up to governments to pick winning and losing applications for gTLDs, despite the fact that ROAR Domains and its partners seem to hope they can do exactly this.

The full Donuts response can be seen here.