Success for '.mobi' premium names
The first nine premium names under the new sponsored top-level domain '.mobi' for mobile phones were sold by live auction at the TRAFFIC East domain name conference in Florida on October 27 2006. The auction was a great success, making a total of $399,250. The highest amount was paid for 'flowers.mobi', which sold for $200,000, followed by 'fun.mobi' for $100,000, 'hot.mobi' for $40,000, 'stockquotes.mobi' for $27,000, 'party.mobi' for $13,000, 'wow.mobi' for $9,000, 'gossip.mobi' for $5,000, 'laugh.mobi' for $3,000 and 'celebs.mobi' for $2,250. Further auctions, this time online, will be held in 2007.
Websites with '.mobi' addresses are specifically aimed at users accessing the Internet from mobile devices. This market is set to grow rapidly, given that there are more mobile phones than televisions and PCs combined worldwide. In addition, fixed line communications are scarce in emerging markets, where mobile devices are the most popular form of communication.
According to recent research, over half of mobile telephones are less than a year old and most have full internet capabilities. It therefore seems possible that the mobile phone could become the internet and communication tool of choice.
'.mobi' domain names became available for open registrations on September 26 2006 after a sunrise period intended to allow trademark holders to register in priority. However, dotMobi, the '.mobi' registry, had blocked a list of 5,615 premium names to sell in batches at an increased price at a later date (see Guidelines for use of '.mobi' premium list by mark owners published). Trademark holders who applied during the sunrise period using valid trademarks for names on the list of premium names saw their applications refused, although dotMobi did allow them to object via the Premium Name Application Process for Trademark Holders, which ended on October 13 2006.
Four more of the 5,615 premium names can now be applied for via a request for proposals process, namely 'news.mobi', 'ringtones.mobi', 'sports.mobi' and 'weather.mobi'. Applications must be made before February 16 2007 using the application form available on the registry's website. A non-refundable €500 processing fee is payable. Applicants must include a detailed business plan and a description of their technical ability to develop a website around the domain name in question. Pointing the domain name to an existing website will not be acceptable. The registry currently plans to announce the results on towards the end of March 2007, although successful applicants will have to sign a contract with the registry before they are entitled to register the domain name with a '.mobi' registrar (a draft standard contract will be made available in December 2007). Within 30 days of registration the registrant must point the domain name towards an active website and this website must remain available at the domain name for a minimum period of one year.
The domain name may be renewed after one year at the prevailing general registration price.
Brand owners who would like their website content to capture the attention of the mobile internet market would be advised to register a '.mobi' name without delay. Preventative registrations should also be considered by brand owners that are concerned by cybersquatting, as by all accounts cybersquatters have been eagerly snapping up brand
names left unregistered during the sunrise period.
'.mobi' names are not simply intended to be pointed towards existing websites with no functionality for mobile content, and indeed certain mandatory rules have to be followed in relation to websites accessible via the '.mobi' extension. However, '.mobi' names
do not necessarily have to point towards active websites and can thus be registered by brand owners to prevent cybersquatting, which often proves cheaper and simpler than recuperation.
David Taylor and Jane Seager, Lovells, Paris
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