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.SUCKS domain registry finds itself in hot water with ICANN

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The registrar behind the new .SUCKS domain has found itself in hot water with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

ICANN is unhappy with the pricing structure that the Vox Populi registry is using for its .SUCKS domains. Prices range from $249-$299 for the general public, but prices start at $2,499 for brand domains (like disney.sucks or comcast.sucks, for example).

ICANN has asked the US Federal Trade Commission and Canada’s Office for Consumer Affairs to look into whether the registry’s activities are illegal. The registry’s actions have been described as ‘predatory’ and ‘a shakedown scheme’ by ICANN’s Intellectual Property Constituency (IPC), and brands are deeply unhappy that they have to pay such high prices to secure .SUCKS domains before someone else can.

Brand domains already purchased include YouTube.sucks, Bing.sucks, Visa.sucks and Yahoo.sucks.

Read more: From .MOE to .SUCKS – 9 of the weirdest new gTLDs

The IPC writes: ‘Vox Populi effectively shows brand owners that, if they fail to register at an exorbitant price, a third party will be able to register for a pittance.’ They describe this as ‘an essential element of Vox Populi’s coercive scheme’.

Just as seriously, the IPC writes, Vox Populi’s actions ‘will have a chilling effect on [trademark] registrations and consequently discredit all of the New gTLD Program Rights Protection Mechanisms in the eyes of brand owners, whose buy-in and adoption of new gTLDs is widely acknowledged to be critical to the success of the new gTLD program.’

Read more: Changing domain name space: Hundreds of new TLDs

ICANN may declare Vox Populi in breach of contract and demand that the registry change its behaviour. In its letter, the organisation also said it is ‘evaluating other remedies available under the registry agreement’.