Premium domain names and all that you need to know...

A new gTLD registry can reserve domain names they consider crowd-pleasers, they can then follow one of two game plans. These reserved names are called premium domain names and this article explains the rules of the games...

by Meg - 08.07.2014

Premium domain names

If a new gTLD registry thinks a domain name has the potential to bring in more money, that’s to say that numerous customers will be eager to register it, the registry has the option to withhold it so interest grows along with revenue. Not all new gTLD registries offer premium domain names but for those that do, the number withheld differs from registry to registry and can be from 100s to 1000s.

Game plan 1

The easiest to explain but perhaps the hardest to swallow for you the customer, is game plan 1. Thankfully very few registries follow this plan.

A new gTLD registry will choose the domain names they think will bring in more money, then they’re labelled ‘premium’. These domains will appear as taken/unavailable when you search for a domain name in our system.

After withholding the names for an indeterminate amount of time, they’ll put them up for auction via a third party. These auctions can take place at any time after the opening launch period (Trademark holders/Sunrise).This practice isn’t new, registries and domain owners have been known to hold onto domain names for years before putting them up for auction, thus creating interest, value, and lots of profit.

Game plan 2

This approach is complex, but more common. If a registry is following game plan 2, when you perform a domain name search our system will highlight those that are flagged as premium by the registry. If you still want the name, you will need to contact us to complete the registration.

In an effort to explain an overly complicated process in a clear way, game plan 2 is broken down into two possible approaches, outlined below and labelled as game plan 2a and game plan 2b.

Game plan 2a

Depending on the registry, premium names can be available for registration during the Sunrise and Landrush periods. This only applies if the launch period has start-date allocation* (real time registration), and is available via EPP (Extensible Provisioning Protocol – the sharing of information between domain name registries and registrars.).

So no auction. Don’t forget, if it’s in the Sunrise/Trademark holders period, you’ll need to own the matching trademark and be registered with the Trademark Clearinghouse.

* start-date allocation – means domains are registered and allocated as the registration is received, i.e., in real time.

Game plan 2b

Registries that apply end-date allocation* to the Sunrise/Landrush periods may put their premium domain names up for auction, but this only happens if they receive multiple applications for the same name. Because applications from several registrars (like us) are queued at the registry until the end of the launch period, customers will be contacted if their applied-for domain name matches others in the queue and asked if they would like to take part in an auction for ownership of the name.

If there is only one application for a particular domain name, the customer will be allocated the domain name at the end of the period, thus avoiding an auction.

* end-date allocation – means a registry will hold the applied-for domain names until the end of the opening Sunrise period or the following Landrush period, before registering them. Most Sunrise periods are end-date allocation.

Who benefits from premium names, other than the registries?

As the new extensions prove triumphant, some brand owners that didn’t apply for their own domain, considering the cost and risks too high, may now be kicking themselves.

But, they can still get the name they want by applying for a premium domain name. Yes they can be pricey, but considerably less than the original ICANN application fee of $185,000.

Are there any other domain names I can’t register?

  • ICANN states that the word ‘example’ should  only be made available for use in technical and software documentation; to avoid naming conflicts.
  • Two-character domain names aren’t allowed, to avoid confusion with  country codes. (Recently, ICANN’s opened a comments period to discuss proposed amendments to this restriction.)
  • WWW, RDDS, WHOIS, and NIC are only allowed to be used by the registries in connection with the operation of their new domain(s).
  • There are country and territory names withheld along with names referencing intergovernmental organisations; for more information you can check out ICANN’s Registry Agreement. Names relating to the International Olympic Committee, the International Red Cross, and the Red Crescent Movement are also reserved.

Name collision

It sounds so exciting but it’s actually just domain names bumping into each other!

A registry may block your domain name if it matches one on ICANN’s name collision list. It’s always been a possibility but it was an unlikely occurrence until the release of thousands of new domain names. Name collision occurs when a new domain name matches an existing domain name on an internal network (intranet), resulting in confusion and possible security risks.

What about the registrars like EuroDNS?

Registries use registrars, such as EuroDNS, as the conduit to market for their domains. If we have access to the collision lists or reserved premium names, we’re able to let our customers know at the beginning of their registration and reduce disappointment further down the process.

It's a complicated process so please let us know if you have any more questions.


Bonus info for domain nerds: ICANN's new gTLD Registry Agreement

ICANN (in charge of the Internet), state in section 3.2 of the new gTLD Registry Agreement that registries may, “activate in the DNS at all levels up to one hundred names necessary for the operation or the promotion of the TLD.” That’s to say, they can withhold them. But, in section 3.3 it says that registries  may, “withhold from registration or allocate to Registry Operator names at all levels...”. The ambiguity of how many may be reserved allows registries to interpret as they wish.

Photo credit

Love them or hate them - premium domain names 

Since publishing this post I've written another explaining how the high price of premium domain names is sometimes, worth it. Take a look at what premium domain names can bring to your website, and you might just change your mind.


Domain namesNew gTLDsICANN

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