Wednesday, January 21, 2015

ICANN Holds Program Auction to Resolve String Contention for .BABY and .MLS

Last December 2014, ICANN held another new gTLD Program Auction via their authorized auction service provider, Power Auctions LLC. The auction came about because several applicants failed to resolve a string contention for the new gTLDs .BABY and .MLS through other preferred means (either direct negotiation, community priority evaluation, or through a private auction without ICANN’s participation.)

The bidding or the .BABY gTLD was won by Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc for $3,088,888. Given that the company is well-known for a wide range of products that include infant and toddler-care, it is understandable why they would pay such a hefty amount for the gTLD. Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc beat 5 other applicants.

The .MLS auction is hotly contested between registry services provider Afilias and the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), with the latter originally filing two applications – one plain application and another “community,” which was withdrawn when they failed to pass the 14 point threshold on their Community Priority Evaluation. They then filed a Legal Rights Objection against Afilias but it also failed.

The .MLS auction was ultimately won by CREA for $3,359,000. Based on the auction winner, it’s safe to say that MLS will stand for “multiple listing service,” which is a type of real estate listings aggregation service used in some countries.

All proceeds from the auction are withheld from use until ICANN’s Board of Directors decide on a plan for appropriate use of the funds, which is done by consultation with the community.

Does registration of domains names under the new gTLDs help in SEO? The blog at quotes Matt Cutts of Google:

“If you want to register an entirely new TLD for other reasons, that's your choice, but you shouldn't register a TLD in the mistaken belief that you'll get some sort of boost in search engine rankings."

Nonetheless, we have already seen some action with cybersquatters trying their hand at gTLDs. See  the WIPO UDRP decision on and  the WIPO decision on with a WIPO decision on on the way. The first gTLD UDRP was, which I discussed in a previous blog entry.

Johnson & Johnson might feasibly use the .baby gTLD to buttress their arguments that they own contested trade marks such as “Onetouch” (disputed in China) by registering, or even (see commentary on this 2007 dispute with the Red Cross)


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