VistaPrint will have to duke it out with Web.com if it wants the .webs brand TLd.
The International Centre for Dispute Resolution has handed in its final determination for the controversial String Confusion Objection process.
In this case, Web.com won against Vistaprint’s two applications for .webs. As a result, .webs will now be in a contention set with Web.com’s application for .web.
If Vistaprint wins the contention set, then .web–often pointed out as the best potential new TLDs–will not see the light of day.
Vistaprint applied for the domain name as a .brand, as it offers a service at Webs.com. It applied as both a community and a regular applications, presumably to increase its chances of winning the domain.
This was a case of singular vs. plural. It was somewhat unusual in that plural usage of “web” is uncommon, and is really only used in Vistaprint’s brand. (The panelist pointed out there are other uses of the term, including for spider webs.)
The decision was decided very late because two previous panelists were dismissed. Based to ICDR’s rules, it appears at least one was dismissed due to an impartiality challenge by one of the parties. I wonder, though, if some other panelists punted given the previous inconsistencies of singular vs. plural domain cases.
Regardless of the reason for the late decision, it gave panelist Ilhyung Lee the benefit of reviewing all of the previous string confusion objections involving singulars and plurals. This was both a blessing and curse because of the inconsistencies.
Lee included an evaluation of all of the string confusion decisions that are contrary to his decision in .web/.webs, and explains why he disagrees with the panelists or finds .webs different.
When it comes down to .web and .webs, I guess “There can be only one“.
[Note: the original version of this article indicated that if Vistaprint wins its contention set, .web won’t be delegated. It’s counter-intuitive given the objection, but this is not the case. If a non-Web.com applicant for .web wins the auction, then both .web and .webs could co-exist.]