Brand Owners Being Forced To Pay Thousands For Dot Sucks Domain Or Face Negative PR
ICANN, the group responsible for assigning and selling Top Level Domain (TLD) extensions, including the recent .porn and .sucks TLDs, has asked the US and Canadian trade authorities to look into the pricing and selling practices being employed by Vox Populi.
While it typically costs between $5 and $20 to register a domain name, some of those registering dot sucks addresses during the “sunrise” period will have to pay as much as $2,500. A number of groups and influential individuals have complained about the practice, including ICANN’s own advisory body. However, as ICANN has asked authorities to investigate, it would seem that the group has no say in how the domains are used once sold.
High pricing alone may not necessarily have been enough to force ICANN’s hand, but the practice has been described as an extortion racket by some – pay inflated $2,500 registration fees or face YourBrand.sucks being registered by a competitor, disgruntled customers, or even former employees with a grudge.
Sunrise Registrations And Premium Domains
Not all dot sucks domains will cost $2,500 – this price tag has been reserved for what are described as premium brands. Brand owners have been invited to register their domain name during a “sunrise” period. The domains will go on general sale once this period ends, therefore placing a deadline on brands that want to protect their reputation.
Predatory And Coercive
A US senator described the practice as “a predatory shakedown scheme” while ICANN’s own advisory body, the Intellectual Property Constituency mirrored the sentiment and also described it as being “illicit” and “coercive” while requesting that ICANN do something to prevent Vox Populi from continuing in the same way.
Finally, ICANN has listened and taken note but are presumably powerless to do anything about it directly. They have reported the domain registration company to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Canadian Office Of Consumer Affairs (COCA) but neither group will be able to do anything unless it can be proven that Vox Populi has broken the law in some way. For now, the group will unlikely be complaining about the press that they are receiving – giving the dot sucks domain additional media time means that brands will have to take it even more seriously when defensively registering domains in the future.
Changes For ICANN’s Plans?
ICANN is only a portion of the way through its plans to expand the number of TLDs that are available, but they may need to consider adding some clauses or other features to help ensure that they don’t receive this kind of pressure to take action against one of their buyers again.