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Whether or not “all” really is “all”

Our brand promise is to provide you with registration services for all new gTLDs. Combined with our Flat Fee Packages, that means an accreditation process for 600+ extensions. During the past 2 years, we found that we cannot stick to this brand promise: if we would really treat “all” as “all”, we’d probably be in big troubles now.

Why? Because some registries seem just not to want registrars by posing ridiculous requirements in their contracts. To fulfill our second promise to our customers (transparency), I think it’s time to explain this s little bit. Due to some NDAs I cannot disclose all information, but this blog post should give you a pretty good idea about the choices we have made.

But before you’re running away now because you think we broke our promise of providing “all” new gTLDs: stay with us! If you or your customer actually wants one of these extensions, contact us and we will register it for you.

Financial requirements

Many registries require a deposit, a pre-paid account similar to the business model of Openprovider: we pay some money to the registry and our registrations and renewals are deducted from that deposit. As soon as all money is consumed, we do a next deposit.

Great, that’s business. And it’s perfectly fine if there is a business case. For Donuts, managing 150+ extensions, we don’t mind doing big payments every couple of weeks. For some smaller extensions, we don’t mind paying a small deposit, even if it can take us a couple of years to consume it.

But guys of

  • .gdn
  • .手机 (“cell” in Chinese)
  • .网址 (“network” in Chinese)
  • and .商标 (“trademark” in Chinese)

what’s the idea of asking deposits of up to half a million US dollars before we can even start acting as a registrar?

Okay, wrong question: the idea is clear. “Ending up with a controllable situation of just one registrar: your own.” And if some other registrar catches the bite: great! You’ve funded all costs you’ll have had for setting up the registry!

Still, most of them are not unsuccessful. .网址 (“network) is even ranked second in the new gTLD landscape with almost 380.000 registered domain names.

Contractual requirements

Then there is a second group of registries with whom we have some problems becoming accredited: those with far-stretching contractual implications.

  • .wed, being live for one year and a half now and having just over 250 registered domain names, requires us and our resellers to maintain our own .wed website. From that website we must sell .wed, but may not sell or redirect to another website that sells any other extension unrelated to wedding. Maybe we could find some loopholes here, but then there is the pricing model: a mid-plus-range initial price, first renewal same price, but as soon as you want to renew your domain for the third year, the price rockets to$25.000. And after the tenth year you loose your domain at all. This all meets the business case of the registry to keep strong domain names like “kathyjohn.wed” available for the next Kathy + John couple, but makes life very difficult for us and for the registrant. Add the requirement to implement potentially thousands of second level domains, and the business case is over for us.
  • .gop mainly sticks to unrestricted marketing requirements. Apart from setting up a web page in their styling and with their content, a tricky clause gives the registry the right to force us to do marketing efforts: if they want us to spend a million on Google Adwords, we will have to obey.
  • .pharmacy may be the extension with highest impact on the registrant. The registry partnered with a company called LegitScript, in their own words “the leading source of internet pharmacy verification”. If LegitScript finds any domain name in any extension in the registrar’s portfolio that they mark as “abusive”, the registrar (we) must suspend and lock all other domain names for that registrant, again irrespective of the extension. Example: if one of the Openprovider-owned domains is reported by them (and trust me: most of their reports are pretty vague and without any legal proof), we are forced to close openprovider.com, openprovider.nl and all other Openprovider-owned domain names.

The future

It might be that this list will grow in the future: not all registries have announced their policies yet, and future rounds of new gTLDs will surely come.

It might also be that this list will shrink in the future: registries may relax their requirements, demand may create a valid business case or our growth may provide us with more resources.

Apart from the seven extensions that are mentioned here, we have our accreditation finished for all the others. The result is 1.5 meters of archived contracts, NDAs, addendums and other documents, but maybe that’s food for a future topic.

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