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.top says Facebook shakedown was just a typo

Kevin Murphy, January 16, 2015, 15:05:06 (UTC), Domain Registries

Jiangsu Bangning Science & Technology, the .top registry, is blaming a typo for a Facebook executive’s claim that it wanted $30,000 or more for facebook.top.

Information provided to the ICANN GNSO Council by Facebook domain manager Susan Kawaguchi yesterday showed that .top wanted RMB 180,000 (currently $29,000) for a trademarked name that previously had been blocked due to ICANN’s name collisions policy.

But Mason Zhang, manager of the registry’s overseas channel division, told DI today that the price is actually RMB 18,000 ($2,900):

We were shocked when seeing that our register price for TMCH protected names like Facebook during Exclusive Registration Period is changed from “eighteen thousand” into what is written, the “one hundred and eighty thousand”.

I think that might be a type mistake from our side, and we checked and we are certain that the price is CNY EIGHTEEN THOUSAND.

The 18,000-yuan sunrise fee is published on the registry’s official web site, as I noted yesterday.

The registry email sent to Facebook is reproduced in this PDF.

I wondered yesterday whether a breakdown in communication may to be blame. Perhaps I was correct.

While $3,000 is still rather high for a defensive registration, it doesn’t stink of extortion quite as badly as $30,000.

Still, it’s moderately good news for Facebook and any other company worried they were going to have to shell out record-breaking prices to defensively register their brands.

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Comments (9)

  1. $3000 is the cost of 10 URS filings. FaceBook would rationally simply let the domain go unregistered and file a URS every year for 10 years, rather than pay the $3K.

  2. Andrew says:

    At even $3k, companies shouldn’t feel obliged to defensively register a domain. Will a cybersquatter really pay that much for a domain name that doesn’t get any traffic?

  3. FaceBook also controls outbound links on their own network. Susan can simply make a phonecall to the engineering department to make sure that all .top domains are blocked on their platform.

  4. Rich says:

    I think suggesting that some kind of communication error or typo was made is being overly generous. Just look at the PDF file and you can see that the original request by the registry was a) very well qualified in multiple currencies fully spelled out and b) generically applied to all of the names being released from collision, not just FB.

    I think brand owners need to take the high road on these exorbitant registration fees and simply walk away, wait for GA if necessary. If and when someone else grabs it and uses it in bad faith, use the URS at significantly less cost

  5. Domenclature says:

    It’s turning out to be like cutting grass, or rather weed. You do it today, and they spring back up next week, with more.

    Are these new extensions ever going to stop it?

  6. Tom says:

    Isn’t this essentially extortion against a TM brand, no wonder they held it up for years on such rights being violated.

    I don’t believe their story for a minute, they tried to get a little boost in earnings off FB.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      Based on the information in my possession right now, the typo explanation seems plausible. Who hasn’t added an extra 0 accidentally to a number? The email was also written in the writer’s second language, and on New Year’s Eve, which could have contributed to the mistake.

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