.Kiwi addresses now up for grabs

After two years of planning, startup Dot Kiwi has started to sell .kiwi web addresses.

It says it has already sold more than 1000 .kiwi domain names so far (they cost $39 a year), with more than 3000 expressions of interest from potential customers.

These so-called global top level domain names require no “nz” in the address, so NBR could, for example, register, say, NBR.kiwi.

Dot Kiwis directors include Peter Dengate-Thrush, the Wellington barrister who is a former president of InternetNZ and a past chairman of global Internet administration body ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – a key agency in the administration of the internet worldwide, which acts under contract to the US Department of Commerce – although the Obama administration is in the process of setting it free.

Although Dot Kiwi is selling standard addresses for $39 a year, it’s seeking to get a premium for some domain names, like “kiwifruit.kiwi” through auctions or fixed priced sales. At one point, it was touting hotels.kiwi for $125,000. Internet commentator David Farrar is dubious that a “.kiwi” address will necessarily be a magnet for those seeking information about a Kiwi-based service. As he tartly noted recently, no one goes to books.co.nz or books.com when they want to buy a paperback online.

Mr Farrar has a sharp point of interest here. He’s a director of the Domain Name Commission, a fully-owned subsidiary of InternetNZ, which represents most of ICANN’s interests in this part of the world, and administers the .nz domain. Its stable of domain names now includes .kiwi.nz, which some have seen as a spoiler aimed at Dot Kiwi after InternetNZ decided not to pursue .Kiwi (Dot Kiwi paid ICANN $US185,000 to apply for .kiwi, and secured rights to sell the domain name by agreeing to pay ICANN admin fees of $US250,000 over the next 10 years). A .nz secondary domain is also in the works, which would allow, for example, NBR.nz rather than NBR.co.nz. Again, that could be seen as a spoiler. Still, NBR thinks Mr Farrar’s broader point stands.

Dot Kiwi is currently in the process of encouraging “land rush” applications, as it calls them – language that encourages companies to nab the .kiwi iteration of their web address before a rival or cybersquatter grabs it.

If you’re the only bidder for a domain name, you get it for $39 a year. If there are two or more applicants, a bidding process begins.

InternetNZ’s Domain Name Commission has a disputes resolution service in the event of an alleged domain name hijack, or when one party otherwise believes another party has registered a domain name that includes a word to which it has established rights. The DNC will bring the two parties together, gratis, for informal mediation.

If that fails, the complainant can take their case to the DNC’s formal dispute resolution service, which involves one of a panel of four retired High Court judges assessing the merits of their case – for a $2300 fee. If you win, the DNC will release the .nz web address you believe rightly belongs to your company. If you lose, you can appeal – although the cost ratchets up to $8050 (on top of the $2300 you’ve already spent).

Dot Kiwi says it’s also sensitive to the rights of trademark holders. It will also offer an informal resolution service, plus a formal disputes process if that fails – though at press time fees were not immediately available.