The release of the .spa domain is overshadowed by arguments and lawsuits. Anything but relax!

NameSphere, who together with Asia Spa and Wellness Promotion Council Limited, manage the .spa domain has long been in a conflict with DotPH (the Philippine registry).

NameSphere was founded in 2012 by Edmon Chung from dotAsia to invest in new gTLDs. In 2012 DotPH invested $ 300,000 in NameSphere. $ 60,000 of this $ 300,000 was intended to obtain a 30% direct ownership in the management of .spa domain names.

However, NameSphere then made a deal with Asia Spa and Wellness Promotion Council Limited to manage the .spa extension (they now together form the .spa registry) and now claims that DotPH cannot claim a 30% direct ownership of the .spa domain. No way DotPH agrees. So DotPH went to the High Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Court of First Instance First Instance in.

Since it will take the court some time to rule whether or not DotPH is entitled to 30% of the .spa domain, DotPH wants to secure the incomes generated by the release of the .spa domain. According to DotPH’s Joel Desini, DotPH has no intention of delaying the release of .spa, but they do want to be sure that the .spa registry will not sell premium .spa domain names at a lower price. Premium names are names of which the registry decides in advance to sell them at a higher price because they believe that there will be a lot of interest in them. DotPH wants to prevent such names from being sold at a lower price to friendly parties or to a very select public. Therefore, they request that half of all revenues generated by the release of the .spa domain be deposited in an escrow account until there is a final court ruling regarding the ownership of the .spa domain.

The court in Hong Kong seems to follow DotPH’s reasoning because it has already decided that from April 1, 2021 the .spa registry may not sell, lease or dispose .spa names in any other way. The .spa registry doesn’t agree with this and therefore the release of the .spa domain started on April 20, 2021. According to the registry, there is no problem for all contracts that were concluded before April 1, 2021. The registry after all, signs a contract with a registrar and it is that registrar who then sells the .spa names to registrants (end users).
The registrar thus acts as an intermediary between the .spa registry and the actual end-user of the .spa name. Precisely because of these intermediaries, it is not possible, according to the .spa registry, to engage in “favoritism” and to sell premium .spa names at a lower price. Until now, the .spa registry will let the release continue.

In the meantime, this case continues in court, to be continued, but the release of the .spa domain is undoubtedly not as relaxed as the registry had imagined.

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