Industry News

XXX Domain Wars

from YNOT.com – On Friday, a second domain registrar revealed tentative pricing for dot-xxx domains. According to a report at DomainIncite.com, U.K.-based registrar DomainMonster will offer the adults-only domains at prices ranging from U.S. $75 to $300.

The $75 price point (actually $74.99) represents a discount off the standard price of $99.99 when an entity registers more than 25 domains at a time during the “open season” registration period, which will follow the Sunrise and Landrush phases. When entities register between 10 and 25 domains at a time, DomainMonster plans drop the price to $89.99 each, Chief Executive Officer Matt Mansell told DomainIncite.

During the Sunrise phase, meant to give trademark holders an opportunity to protect their intellectual property, dot-xxx domains may be blocked for $299.99, $289.99 or $249.99 apiece, using the same volume-based sliding scale.

For owners of non-trademarked domains in other domain spaces who wish to “grandfather” their domains in dot-xxx during Sunrise, volume-based prices will run $199.99, $179.99 and $149.99, respectively. The grandfather prices also will apply to the Landrush phase.

Like Germany’s Key-Systems, which announced its pricing earlier this week, DomainMonster plans to charge a premium to webmasters and companies that want to register their domains ahead of an expected rush of new entrants into the online adult entertainment realm.

Also like Key-Systems, DomainMonster will charge a one-time fee to permanently block dot-xxx domains that duplicate trademarks and servicemarks whose owners don’t want them used for hawking pornography. DomainMonster’s $299.99 per blocked domain is quite a bit lower than Key-Systems’ $544, but both companies’ prices represent a significant markup over what ICM Registry Chief Executive Officer Stuart Lawley told YNOT.com the wholesale price for the service will be: $162.

DomainMonster has not yet revealed what it will charge in order to cover the mandatory additional fees ICM will charge to “qualify” Sunrise and Landrush registrants’ claims to intellectual property ownership. Key-Systems’ fees run about $115 to $163.

According to Lawley, any of the domain registrars who announce pricing at this point may be jumping the gun just a bit.

“None of them have actually completed all of the formalities [of approval to sell the domains] yet,” he told YNOT.com, adding “we only confirmed final pricing about 10 days ago.”

Members of the online entertainment community can avoid the confusion and forego the registrar price wars, at least for another week or so, by pre-registering their dot-xxx domains directly through ICM, Lawley said. That way, the domain names are protected, but their owner-hopefuls don’t have to make a decision just yet about which registrar may be most financially advantageous.

After ICM closes its pre-registration interface, the company will “contact everybody on those lists [and provide] their [domain] names in easy-to-upload formats for entry via the appropriate registrar of their choice,” he said. “Hopefully, folks will be able to go to registrars by then.”

According to Lawley, ICM has received more than 900,000 pre-registrations for “just over” 600,000 dot-xxx domains. In cases where more than one entity has attempted to pre-register the same domain, a closed auction between the parties will determine the eventual owner.

“Let’s in Sunrise, BigBoobs.com’s owner and BigBoobs.net’s owner both apply and qualify,” he said. “We send just those two parties to a mini-auction. Otherwise, who would we award [the domain] to? What’s fair? Some names have thousands of ‘hopefuls’ applying under the ‘wish list’ basket.”

Pool.com will serve as official dot-xxx auctioneer, Lawley said. The company previously handled a similar service for dot-co and dot-asia.

Notably, although Network Solutions — the original domain-name registrar and the first to receive approval to offer dot-xxx domains — has opened pre-registration for dot-xxx domains, the company so far has declined to reveal even a hint of its pricing structure. Even webmasters who submit pre-registration data to Network Solutions are told only that pricing will be disclosed when the registrar is able to accept payment.

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