The .Shop Top Level Domain (TLD)
In 2012, ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and numbers, accepted applications to create new Top Level Domains (TLDs). A TLD is the text to the right of the final dot in a domain name. For example, .Com is the most popular TLD today. 1,930 applications for proposed new TLDs were filed. DotAnything.co will be featuring one perspective new TLD per week in our 10-week series on the most popular new TLDs.
September 30, 2013 - For more than 30 years, the .COM Top Level Domain (TLD) has ruled the Internet as the most popular TLD ever created. Originally intended to stand for 'Commercial', domains in the .COM TLD spam every continent, topic, and country on the face of the planet.
Today, there are just 22 generic Top Level Domains - like .COM and .BIZ - from which to choose. But with over 200 million domain names, well, it's easy to see that 22 just isn't enough.
In 2012, Internet regulators held a historic application round, inviting companies to apply to create any new TLD that they wanted. The response from the business community was enthusiastic. 1,930 applications for new TLDs were filed for everything from .GAP and .BMW to .Shop, .Site, .Web and .Buzz.
DotAnything.co will be profiling the most popular new TLDs in a ten-week series on new TLD applicants. This week's featured TLD is the .Shop TLD.
The .Shop TLD is the most popular TLD in the 2012 application round. In 2012, SEDO, a popular domain name marketplace, released its list of the top ten most valuable TLDs. Number one on the list was the .Shop TLD.
Sedo’s list has indeed proven prophetic, as the .Shop TLD has more pre-registrations on DotAnything.co than any other TLD, even surpassing the .Web and .Site TLDs. But why is the .Shop TLD so popular? According to Shweta Sahjwani, Strategic Partner Manager for DotShop Inc., “.Shop will allow Registrants in the e-commerce market to differentiate themselves from the 200+ million domain names out there. As of now, a domain belonging to an online store appears identical to any other domain name in a .gTLD (com) or .ccTLD extension (eg .in).” DotShop Inc. - a wholly owned subsidiary within the Directi Group - is one of the nine applicants seeking to operate the .Shop TLD.
The future of the .Shop TLD
It is unclear at this stage which company will be awarded the contract to operate the .Shop TLD. There were nine applications filed in the 2012 ICANN application round from companies seeking to operate the .Shop TLD. The table below provides a list of the 9 pending applications for the .Shop TLD:
|Priority Number||Applicant||Future Plans for .Shop TLD|
|649||Commercial Connect LLC||Domain Sales Available to public. Additional security features planned.|
|1639||Sugar Maple, LLC (a Donuts company)||Domain Sales Available to public.|
|1837||Dot Shop Limited||Domain Sales Available to public.|
|1556||Amazon EU S.à r.l.||Domains restricted to Amazon Only|
|1191||Charleston Road Registry Inc. (wholly owned by Google, Inc)||Domain Sales Available to public.|
|1633||DotShop Inc.||Domain Sales Available to public.|
|1593||GMO Registry, Inc.||Domain Sales Available to public.|
|410||GMO Registry, Inc.||Domain Sales Available to public.|
|494||Beijing Jingdong 360 Du E-Commerce TLD||Domain Sales Available to public.|
About the Applicants
Commercial Connect LLC
Commercial Connect LLC has a long history with the .Shop TLD. Commercial Connect LLC originally applied to create the .Shop TLD back in 2000, and although the application was well received, ICANN elected to allow only a few new TLDs to be created at that time. Indeed, Commercial Connect's application for the .Shop TLD in the 2000 application round is the only application for a TLD in that round that was completely approved throughout the application process without being delegated. Since then, Jeremy Smith, the owner of Commercial Connect LLC, has continued to build momentum around the .Shop TLD, building a consortium of leading companies supporting his bid for a .Shop TLD.
Sugar Maple, LLC
Surgar Maple, LLC is wholly owned by Donuts, Inc. Donuts, through its subsidiary companies, has applied for more TLDs than any other company. Donuts, Inc. is a venture-capital funded company created solely to apply for new Top Level Domains. Backers include Austin Ventures, Adams Street Partners, Emergence Capital Partners, TL Ventures, Generation Partners, Stahurricane, Comerica Bank, and Columbia Partners Investment Management.
Donuts applied for the following TLDs:
Dot Shop Limited
Dot Shop Limited is a subsidiary of Domain Venture Partners PCC Limited. Domain Venture Partners PCC Limited has partnered with Neustar, Inc to provide back-end services for the .Shop TLD. Domain Venture Partners PCC Limited is a venture-backed company and was launched in October 2011 with investment assets of 48.3 million. The purpose of Domain Venture Partners PCC Limited is to invest in applying for new TLDs. Domain Venture Partners PCC Limited invested in 60 different companies which each applied with ICANN to create new TLD Registries. Of those 60 applications 12 are currently uncontested and these are expected to launch in Q1 2014.
Amazon EU S.a.r.l.
Amazon EU S.à r.l. (yes, that Amazon – owner of Amazon.com) was one of the nine applicants for the .Shop TLD. Unlike the other applicants, Amazon intends to operate the .Shop TLD as a restricted registry, meaning that domain names within the .Shop TLD would not be sold to the general public. Amazon applied for a total of 76 TLDs (including .Shop).
Amazon applied for the following TLDs:
Charleston Road Registry
Charleston Road Registry, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Google, Inc. Through its subsidiary, Google applied for a total of 101 TLDs, including .Shop. If awarded the .Shop TLD, Google intends to operate it as an unrestricted registry, meaning that domains within the .Shop TLD would be sold to the general public. It remains to be seen whether Google will use the existing Distribution network (eg. Registrars like GoDaddy.com) to sell its domain names or whether Google will create its own Registrar platform.
Google applied for the following TLDs in the 2012 ICANN application process:
DotShop Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary within the Directi Group. The Directi Group runs various businesses including several ICANN Accredited Domain Registrars (ResellerClub.com and BigRock.com) and Web Hosting companies. With over four million active domain names registered through its registrars, Directi has significant experience (over 10 years) of managing domain name abuse mitigation and rights protection.
According to Shweta Sahjwani, Strategic Partner Manager for DotShop Inc., "DotShop Inc. will draw upon the lasting business relationships that Directi has built with hundreds of registrars and thousands of resellers worldwide to achieve a robust distribution channel for .Shop. DotShop Inc. is in the unique position to leverage the significant industry-specific experience, expertise, and resources from within The Directi Group to make .Shop amongst the most successful new gTLDs in the future."
GMO Registry, Inc.
GMO Registry was founded in 2009 and is financially supported and backed by GMO Internet Group whose, domain business manages millions of domains.
GMO Registry applied for the following TLDs:
GMO Registry, Inc. (yes, GMO applied twice)
Same as above.
Beijing Jingdong 360 Du E-Commerce TLD
Jingdong Mall provides online sales of home appliances, digital communications, computers, home merchandise, apparel, baby, books, food and more. In 2010, Jingdong Mall emerged as China's first network of more than ten billion scale retail enterprises. Beijing Jingdong 360 Du E-Commerce TLD applied only for one TLD: .Shop.
What's Next for the .Shop Applicants
Initial Evaluation and Extended Evaluation (In Progress)
All applicants for the .Shop TLD, with the exception of Commercial Connect LLC, have now passed the Initial Evaluation phase of the new TLDs application process. Commercial Connect LLC is currently participating in the Extended Evaluation phase for its .Shop application, which is an optional Extended Evaluation available to applicants for an additional fee. Depending on the results of the Extended Evaluation of Commercial Connect's application for .Shop, Commercial Connect may or may not be allowed to proceed to the next phases of the application process. If Commercial Connect's application for .Shop is deemed to have received a passing score after Extended Evaluation, Commercial Connect will be allowed to proceed to the next phase of the application process. If Commercial Connect's application for the .Shop TLD is deemed to have failed the Extended Evaluation process, then Commercial Connect will be ineligible to proceed with the next phases of the application process.
Dispute Resolution (In Progress)
The Dispute Resolution phase of the ICANN evaluation process has been running concurrently with Initial Evaluations and Extended Evaluations. The Dispute Resolution phase of the new TLDs application process is an opportunity for applicants or other interested parties to file disputes against new TLD applications on one of four dispute grounds: Legal Rights, String Confusion, Limited Public Interest or Community Objection.
The deadline for filing a dispute against an application for a new TLD has closed. Surprisingly, just two objections were filed against an applicant for a .Shop TLD:
- An objection was filed against the Amazon application for the .Shop TLD by Commercial Connect on the basis of String Confusion.
- An objection was filed against the Amazon application for the .Shop TLD by Japan Association of New Economy (JANE) on the basis of Community opposition.
In addition to the objections above, Commercial Connect LLC also filed several additional String Confusion objections against other strings, such as .Store and .ShopYourWay, which it felt were too similar to the .Shop TLD and could potentially cause consumer confusion.
In addition, all of the applicants for the .Shop TLD have been placed in a contention set, which means that only one of the nine applicants for the .Shop TLD can be awarded the contract (or Registry Agreement) to actually operate the .Shop tLD.
The Next Step: Negotiations or Bidding?
If, after the Dispute Resolution phase is complete, more than one applicant is still 'in the running' in a given contention set, then applicants are encouraged to negotiate amongst themselves. So far, this has resulted in either applicants agreeing to combine their applications or else in a bidding processes hosted by third party providers. For example, Tucows, Directi and Namecheap recently combined their bids for the .online Top Level Domain.
On the other hand, other applicants, such as Donuts, Inc., have indicated their unwillingness to participate in such negotiations, and instead are participating in a bidding process to determine which applicant should operate a given TLD. For example, Innovative Auctions has hosted several private auctions which have been used to determine which applicant in a contention set should be allowed to continue to the next phase of the ICANN application process. Participants in private auctions agree to withdraw their application for a given TLD if they fail to win in a bidding war for the rights to a given TLD.
Since Donuts, Inc. is one of the 9 applicants for the .Shop TLD (Donuts owns Sugar Maple LLC), and Donuts, Inc. has publicly expressed its interest in participating in Private Auctions hosted by Innovative Auctions, it is highly likely that, rather than a combined application for the .Shop TLD, we will instead see a bidding war for the .Shop TLD hosed by a Private Auction provider like Innovative Auctions.
Signed Registry Agreement
After all but one applicants for a given TLD have either withdrawn their applications or been eliminated, the next phase would be for the TLD applicant to sign a Registry Agreement with ICANN. To date, 47 such agreements have been signed. Only after the Negotiation / Bidding process for the .Shop TLD is complet will one of the nine applicants for the .Shop TLD be able to proceed to sign a Registry Agreement with ICANN for the .Shop TLD. At this point, it's anybody's guess which of the nine applicants will ultimately be eligible to sign a contract with ICANN for the .Shop TLD.
After a Registry Agreement for a TLD is signed, the TLD applicant has 30 days to pass Pre-Delegation testing. After Pre-delegation testing, ICANN will file a formal request with IANA for the new TLD to be delegated into the Root Zone
After a new TLD is delegated into the Root Zone, there is typically a six month "ramp-up" phase during which the new TLD signs up Registrars / sets up its distribution strategy for new TLDs
After the Ramp-up phase is complete, applicants who operate an unrestricted registry will begin the Sunrise period, which is the period where first Trademark owners are allowed to purchase their trademarked domain names, after which there is a phase where those who wish to purchase high value domains within the new TLD may bid for their domains. Once the Sunrise phase is complete, domain names within the new TLD are made available for purchase by the general public.
Since extended evalution can take up to 90 days, and a bidding process may take additional time, it may late in 2014 before domains within a .Shop TLD could be created either by a Restricted Registry creating wholly owned domains or by an Unrestricted Registry selling domain names within the .Shop TLD to the general public.
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