Update on Verisign’s IDN Implementation Plans

Pat Kane | Jul 12, 2013

The composition of the Internet’s population has seen a dramatic shift over the last two decades. In 1996, the majority of end users were based in the U.S.; according to a 2012 Comscore report, the non-English speaking Internet population has grown to 87 percent, with more than 40 percent based in the Asia-Pacific region. In order to embrace this population shift, we believe the Internet must become multilingual so it can be accessible and relevant to the majority of end users today.

By enabling more end users to navigate the Internet in scripts representing their native language and more companies to maintain a common brand identity across many scripts, IDNs have the potential to make the Internet more accessible and thus usable to end users around the world. This accessibility is why IDNs have generated considerable attention since Verisign introduced IDNs at the second-level in 2000.

As you may already know, last year Verisign applied for 12 transliterations of .com and .net through ICANN’s new gTLD program:

We worked with linguistic experts to identify regionally specific transliterations that represent a localized version of .com and .net into one of several non-Latin scripts.  Although transliterations are not direct translations of the strings .com and .net, based on our research into the regional markets, we determined these transliterations to be good options for representing .com or .net in the local script.

We believe this approach will provide the greatest consistency to users, help avoid end-user confusion, and foster trust and ubiquity for IDNs.

Recently, Verisign announced details about our IDN.IDN implementation plans. Through this approach, a registrant of an IDN.com or IDN.net or registrant in one of our new IDN TLDs will have the sole right, subject to applicable rights protection mechanisms, but not be required to register the same second level name across all or any of our IDN TLDS, including .com or .net TLD as applicable.

While further details can be found in our notification letter to ICANN, below are two use cases that illustrate our approach:

  • Use Case No. 1: Bob Smith already has a registration for an IDN.net second level domain name.  That second level domain name will be unavailable in all of the new .net TLDs except to Bob Smith. Bob Smith may choose not to register that second level domain name in any of the new transliterations of the .net TLDs.    
  • Use Case No. 2:  John Doe does not have a registration for an IDN.com second level domain name.  John Doe registers a second level domain name in our Thai transliteration of .com but in no other TLD. That second level domain name will be unavailable in all other transliterations of .com IDN TLDs and in the .com registry unless and until John Doe (and only John Doe) registers it in another .com IDN TLD or in the .com registry.

Two primary objectives in our strategy to implement new IDN gTLDs are, where feasible, to avoid costs to consumers and businesses from purely defensive registrations in these new TLDs, as well as to avoid end-user confusion. We believe this implementation strategy will be an important benefit to the community and will help create a ubiquitous user experience.

In addition to serving as the registry operator for .com and .net with a record of maintaining 100 percent uninterrupted availability for more than 15 years, Verisign is a participant in, and contributor to, the new gTLD program, with 14 direct applications and as a back-end registry services provider for new gTLD applicants representing approximately 200 strings. As such, security, stability and resiliency remains Verisign’s primary focus as the company prepares for the IDN TLD launch.

With the Internet poised to undergo a historic transformation and IDNs paving the way, it is time for a truly localized and multilingual Web.

Pat, thanks for the update. Would you be able to post a copy of the notification letter that you sent to ICANN? Thanks! Avtal
Pat, any detail on how this will work with second level variants ? Many thanks JS
Thank you for clearly communicating the plans for the idn.idn transliterations. The following question was asked during a TMCH icann Durban session, with no clear answer and so it would be appreciated if verisign can further explain this specific unknown regarding it's various .com/.net transliterations: Question: To avoid user confusion, some IDN gTLD applications as part of their allocation plan, intend to reserve/allocate matching domains for existing current 2nd level ASCII gTLD registrations. How does this impact the TMCH process? The guidebook isn't clear on this conflict.
Avtal: I have linked to it in the post above. JS: Thanks for your question. Variants at the second level will be handled the same as they are in .com and .net today.
Pat, do you have an estimate of when you guys will open registration for the new idn.idn domains? Thanks, SK
Michael: The Rights Protection Mechanisms have not been finalized. We continue to work within the community to help ensure that our IDN plans effectuate both the intent of the sunrise and purpose of our plans to help support a ubiquitous user experience, and where feasible, to avoid costs to consumers and businesses from purely defensive registrations. In any event, under ICANN’s current draft Trademark Clearinghouse requirements, a sunrise registrant must have a valid mark for the second-level of the desired domain name in order to eligible to register the domain name during sunrise.
What is the status with this Mr. Kane? The agreement have now been signed, When can registrants expect another update?
Hi Michael, As discussed in our Earnings call yesterday, Verisign has signed the registry agreements for .comsec and 11 IDN TLDs; 8 of which are transliterations of .com and 3 are transliterations of .net. While these registry agreements with ICANN are signed, before these domains become generally available, a few more steps remain, including delegation, controlled interruption which deals with potential name collisions, completion of a sunrise period, and finalization and approval of our launch plans. The failure to gain approval, if required, could delay a General Availability date, or could result in Verisign having to revise our go-to-market strategy for the IDNs.