.London Premium Domain Name Auctions Start

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London Evening Standard LogoNew York, July 15, 2015 – While New York City officials consider ways to issue the city-shaping and valuable Premium Domain Names – hotels.nyc, sports.nyc, news.nyc – London has settled on a plan for allocating its Premium Names. According to a story in today’s London Evening Standard:

Fifty of the most prized “dot London” website domain names are being auctioned from today to raise tens of thousands of pounds for the Standard’s charitable Dispossessed Fund.

Generic names such as cars.london, cinema.london, coffee.london, food.london and shoes.london were open to bids at noon at the domainauctions.london online sales room.

It is the latest phase of the roll-out of the new dot London website addresses with 64,000 already registered since launch in April 2014.

Up to a quarter of the proceeds from the auction, which closes at midday on July 30, will go to charities supported by the Dispossessed Fund subject to a cap of £50,000.

How much might the auction raise overall? Take a look at the early results here. With two weeks to go before this first auction concludes, rooms.london has a bid of £5,100 (about $8,000), with west.london in second place with a £2,501. So it would seem the Standard’s Disposessed Fund will max out with a £50,000 contribution.

The article mentions nothing about public interest commitments so our guess is that there are none, and that the Disposessed Fund is a fig leaf for the public interest.

Here in New York we’ve recommended that important Premium Names have public interest commitments attached. (Note: The city has set aside 3,069 names for consideration as premium names, some of which have little baring on the civic good such as 777.nyc and zero.nyc. We support auctioning these names.)

Public Interest Commitments will vary, perhaps requiring that hotels.nyc fairly present all the city’s hotels and that news.nyc and sports.nyc be based on local content. The New York Internet Society and Connecting.nyc Inc. organized a panel last December that suggested a PIC Oversight Board to delve into the intricacies of the allocation process.

Premium Names are a cornerstone of a successful city-TLD design plan. London seems to have taken its lead from General Motors’ chief Charles Erwin Wilson, saying (excuse our paraphrase) “What’s good for domain name sales is good for our city”. We await Mayor de Blasio’s plan.

 

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Report: Public Interest Commitments & Premium .nyc Domain Names

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Jackson Hts., New York, January 3, 2014 – The New York Internet Society and Connecting.nyc Inc. convened a panel on December 18 to explore the prospect and impact of requiring Public Interest Commitments (PICs) for some of the unallocated .nyc domain names – names such as news.nyc, sports.nyc, and hotels.nyc.

Internet thought leader Avri Doria kicked off the panel with a most informative and reflective history on the origin of ICANN’s new TLD program and the evolving role of PICs. She expressed a mixed viewpoint on the role of PICs, but was dubious about domain names being considered “magic words” – leaning toward the “there’s always a viable alternative” viewpoint.

Avri was followed by Thomas Lowenhaupt, founding director of Connecting.nyc Inc., who suggested that unallocated .nyc domain names be mined for those that might be shaped to benefit the public interest; and that those names have PICs attached to their development rights. (See list of 3,069 premium names.) To achieve this goal he suggested city hall establish a PIC Oversight Board to facilitate the identification and development of names that might benefit the public interest.

  • The Board should create guidelines for identifying public interest names and administer a process for their selection. That process should maximize opportunities for public engagement.
  • The Board should identify PIC features that might aide the development of markets and quality of life: maps, searchable alpha and geographic listings, public rankings, comments, reviews, etc. Names should be assigned appropriate PICs.
  • The Board should devise policies that maximize opportunities for the creative development of public interest names. These policies should enable for a broad spectrum of society to avail themselves of the opportunities provides by this new resource (not just current market leaders). These might include innovation credits, subsidies, stretched payment schedules, and other incentives.
  • The Board should advise on suitable means of distributing PIC names: high-bid auction, request for proposals, or other processes.
  • On an ongoing basis the Board should monitor the efficacy of the PIC program.

Finally, Gabriel Levitt, commenting on the .pharmacy TLD, provided insight into the role domain names can play in shaping a market and the public’s interest. Timothy McGinnis provided additional commentary on that topic. A full report on the presentations, a Q&A, and links to panelist videos and slides can be found on the meeting report page.

[Subsequent to the panel, member Thomas Lowenhaupt noted that he’d neglected to mention an important policy consideration relating to premium names and PICs – equity. His concern is that with high-bid auctions the sole criteria determining premium name allocation, new New Yorkers with new visions but slim bank accounts will find it difficult to participate in the .nyc marketplace. He requested that the equity issue be noted here for inclusion in the ongoing conversation.]

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Going once. Going twice… The .nyc auctions

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­auction todayJackson Hts., New York, July 29, 2014 – With the .london Landrush ending on Thursday, “30 applications for the properties.london address and over 40 for nightlife.london” have been received (see V3.co.uk/) with an auction to decide the recipient. What? Let me try to unbundle that statement.

Over the past 50+ days anyone with $75 to invest (see GoDaddy’s rates) has been able to buy a lottery ticket of sorts for a domain name within the .london TLD. With the July 31 deadline to apply for a .london domain name nearing, 30 people have purchased tickets for the “properties.london” lottery, and 40 for the “nightlife.london” lottery. By midnight on July 31 more than 50,000 different domain names are expected to have been applied for overall, with several thousand names having multiple bidders.

In London…

The operator of the .london TLD has established priority rules to sort out those instances of “multiple-applicants for same name?” Here’s how it works.

  • Getting first priority are those with a registered international trademark. If more than one entity has a trademark, for example, Cadillac cars and Cadillac foods, then a high bid auction is held to determine the winner.
  • Second priority goes to ticket holders with a valid London address and an established right to a name. For example, a business can upload “evidence” to demonstrate its current use of a name, and thus right, to a parallel .london domain name. Within this Second Priority several sub-categories have been established: In descending order of priority those are: entities with local trademarks, businesses without trademarks, charities, and those with unregistered trademarks. Again, if more than one entity presents evidence of prior use in a sub-category, for example, cadillac.com and cadillac.net, a high bid auction sorts things out.
  • Third priority goes to those applicants with a valid London address, but no prior use of the name.
  • Final priority (if that’s the right word) goes to applicants without a valid London address, a New Yorker for example who wants to own a piece of digital London. In these last two instances it’s an auction that breaks a tie.

In New York…

Here in New York we’re doing things differently. There’s no value to having used a name for years or decades. And it doesn’t matter if you’ve registered it with the state – neither a New York State trademark nor d/b/a counts.

Excepting those with international trademarks, local businesses and non-profits have no more right to a name than anyone else. The Bloomberg Administration, which established the rules, made the decision to start the naming process all over again on a level(ish) playing field.

So between August 4 and October 3, if you like a name, buy a ticket (it will cost you about $75). Then out bid the current owner (and possibly other ticket holders) at auction, and its yours. But you may get lucky – the current owner might not even know the .nyc TLD is being introduced, and not buy a ticket. In that case, no auction, it’s yours.

So what happens when 30 tickets are sold for a domain name such as properties.nyc? “The auction will be held in accordance with the auction rules… Any auction fees, charges and the final bid price for the domain name will be the responsibility of the Applicant.” A regressive process that promotes the status quo.

This Bloomberg legacy process is slated to move ahead. For the administration it’s the easy, fast, and cheap allocation process. But if you believe as I do that it’s unfair, call 311 and tell Mayor de Blasio –  è ingiusto.

For our older posts 2007-2014 see here.

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