TurnCommerce questions Donuts’ plans for new drop catching system

TurnCommerce questions Donuts’ plans for new drop catching system

Company is concerned about added-fee expired domain system and the precedent it could set.

Picture of clock with words "expired domains"

TurnCommerce, which operates the DropCatch expired domain platform, has raised concerns with ICANN about a new expired domain system Donuts plans to implement.

Donuts has filed two Registry Services Evaluation Policy (RSEP) requests (pdf, pdf) with ICANN to approve the new system called Dropzone.

With Dropzone, the registry provides an exact expiration time for each domain, and registrars can apply for the domains at this time through a discrete EPP server system. If more than one registrar sends an application, the domain is awarded to the first registrar to submit its application.

Afilias, which Donuts acquired at the end of last year, already provides Dropzone for some of its top level domains. But there’s a big difference between Afilias’ approved RSEP and Donuts’: Afilias’ application stated that the fees are the same as a normal registration, whereas Donuts’ includes additional pricing:

In addition to the standard or premium registration prices of a given domain name, The Dropzone service can support additional application fees to be configured on a per TLD basis.
Applications fees where applicable will be charged in addition to the standard registration price of a domain name.

A source told Domain Name Wire that Donuts has informed registrars about the Dropzone pricing, which will be $0, $2, or $4, depending on the top level domain. It’s unclear if this is a fee for submitting an application or only for a successful Dropzone registration. Donuts declined to comment for this story.

TurnCommerce is clearly concerned about the precedent Dropzone could create. In its letter, the company states:

Will other registries seek parity with these services, or perhaps introduce other incremental advances towards registry auction or wait list services that have been denied or controversial from competitive perspectives?

Verisign has previously tried to grab more revenue from expired domains with a “waitlist” service. The company has also patented other ways to distribute expired domains, including a way to offer encoded backorder domains and offering access pools for catching expired domains.

TurnCommerce’s letter also discusses the vertical integration between Donuts and Name.com. Should fees be charged on all expired domain applications (not just successful ones), it is concerned that Name.com could be advantaged by submitting unlimited applications at essentially no cost because it is effectively paying itself.

According to ICANN’s website, Donuts’ RSEP requests have been approved and are pending contract amendment.

While most RSEP requests aren’t controversial, it has become more difficult to track interesting RSEP cases because ICANN turned off its MyICANN system, which emailed alerts about changes made to ICANN’s website. It has developed a new system that does not cover as much content.

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Original article: TurnCommerce questions Donuts’ plans for new drop catching system

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