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“Halt perverted .sucks shakedown now!” demands IPC

Kevin Murphy, March 27, 2015, 19:34:36 (UTC), Domain Registries

Intellectual property interests have asked ICANN to put an immediate stop to the roll-out of the .sucks new gTLD.
A letter to Global Domains Division president Akram Atallah, sent by the Intellectual Property Constituency this evening and seen by DI, calls the registry’s plans, which include an “exorbitant” $2,500 sunrise fee, a “shakedown scheme”.
It’s also emerged that Vox Populi, the .sucks registry, has agreed to pay ICANN up to a million dollars in mysterious fees that apply to no other new gTLD registry.
The IPC letter states.

the Intellectual Property Constituency is formally asking ICANN to halt the rollout of the .SUCKS new gTLD operated by Vox Populi Registry Inc. (“Vox Populi”), so that the community can examine the validity of Vox Populi’s recently announced plans to: (1) to categorize TMCH-registered marks as “premium names,” (2) charge exorbitant sums to brand owners who seek to secure a registration in .SUCKS, and (3) conspire with an (alleged) third party to “subsidize” a complaint site should brand owners fail to cooperate in Vox Populi’s shakedown scheme.

Vox Populi intends to take .sucks to sunrise on Monday, so the IPC wants ICANN to take immediate action.
The high price of registration, the IPC believes, will discourage trademark owners from using the sunrise period to defensively register their marks.
Meanwhile, the registry’s plan to make the domains available for $10 under a “Consumer Advocate Subsidy”, will encourage cybersquatting, the IPC says.

by discouraging trademark owners from using a key RPM, we believe that the registry operator’s actions in establishing this predatory scheme are complicit in, and encourage bad faith registrations by third parties at the second level of the .SUCKS gTLD, and thus drastically increase the likelihood of trademark infringement, all for commercial gain

The letter goes on to say that Vox Populi may be in violation of its registry contract and the Post-Delegation Dispute Resolution Policy, which was created to prevent registries turning a blind eye to mass cybersquatting.
There’s also a vague threat of legal action for contributory trademark infringement.
The IPC has particular beef with the registry’s Sunrise Premium program. This is a list of strings — mostly trademarks — that have been defensively registered in earlier sunrise periods.
Sunrise Premium names will always cost $2,500, even after sunrise, when registered by the trademark owner.
The IPC says:

Vox Populi is targeting and punishing brand owners who have availed themselves of the RPMs or shown that they are susceptible to purchasing defensive registrations… This will have a chilling effect on TMCH registrations and consequently discredit all of the New gTLD Program RPMs 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.

Finally, and perhaps more disturbingly, the IPC has discovered that the .sucks registry agreement calls for Vox Populi to pay ICANN up to a million dollars in extra fees.
As well as the usual $25,000-a-year fee and $0.25 per-transaction fee, .sucks has already paid ICANN a $100,000 “registry access fee” and has promised to pay a $1 “registry administration fee” per transaction on its first 900,000 domains.
Its contract states:

Registry Operator shall also pay ICANN (i) a one-time fixed registry access fee of US$100,000 as of the Effective Date of this Agreement, and (ii) a registry administration fee of US$1.00 for each of the first 900,000 Transactions. For the avoidance of doubt, the registry administration fee shall not be subject to the limitations of the Transaction Threshold.

This makes ICANN look absolutely terrible.
What the hell is a “registry access fee”? What’s a “registry administration fee”?
One guess would be that it’s ICANN stocking up its legal defense fund, suspecting the kerfuffle .sucks is going to cause.
But by taking the Vox Pop shilling, ICANN has opened itself up to accusations that it’s complicit in the “shakedown”.
If it does not block .sucks (which was probably the most likely outcome even without mysterious fees) the IPC and other .sucks critics will be able to point to the $1 million as a “bribe”.
The behavior is not without precedent, however.
There’s a reason ICM Registry pays ICANN a $2 fee for every .xxx registration, rather than the much lower fees charged to other gTLD registries.
Read the IPC letter here.

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Comments (8)

  1. How dare they !!?! .. How dare those low-life techies come up with a plan to take our clients to the cleaners while letting people protest for a mere pittance!
    It’s taken us YEARS to perfect OUR scheme and these jokers just waltz in here with a clever idea that will make it harder for us to do our jobs! What’s worse, there is no immediate way for “us” to profit here!
    This madness can’t stand!! Grab the torches and storm the tower!!

  2. Rubens Kuhl says:

    Two possibly wrong things from a contractual compliance standpoint:
    1) The same name seems to be available for some registrants for price X but for other registrants for price Y
    2) The community forum for voicing discontent is not listed in Exhibit A – Approved Services for that TLD

    • Volker Greimann says:

      Not sure about number one. I admit I did not delve into every detail, but it seemed to me every registrant potentially paid the same price if registering in the same phase.
      Higher prices for Sunrise domains are also common.
      Sure, they are driving current models to an extreme and there is a lot not to be liked about this, but I do not think this is a compliance issue.
      For two, the definition of what constitutes an approved service is less than clear. In the end, it is ICANN who must decide what is an additional service that must be approved and what is not. I originally assumed this would mainly apply to technical services, such as allowing bulk transfers and the like, and less to non-technical usage requirements.

      • Volker Greimann says:

        Anyway, it is an interesting test case for compliance.

      • Rubens Kuhl says: ; look at “sunrise premium” which is not tied to the sunrise phase but no the marks that have been defended during sunrise and applies to general availability phase. If the registrant is “consumer advocate”, the wholesale price is $4.98; if the registrant is “corporate registrant”, wholesale price is $1999.

  3. BT says:

    If their price is the same to all registrants and the registry doesn’t own the protest portal, then Both 1 and 2 are wrong Rubens. Will have to see how they structure it.

  4. Gaz says:

    I think it was a no-brainer that this one would eventually come back to bite ICANN on the ass.
    A little more common sense should have been employed – instead of focusing on the money… especially when they have so much of it!

  5. Graham says:

    Racketeering from beyond Madrid Union protection of Marks.
    Another activity of Contributory Infringement supported by ICANN, who enjoy financial benefit too, while maintaining .SUCKS on Servers within United States, which FYI legally voids the isolation luxury of the Caymen Islands.
    Notice that the “.SUCKS” Registry is very conveniently domiciled in the Caymen Islands, on Grand Caymen, outside both the United States; and very conveniently, outside the Madrid Union, as per:
    No doubt there, so they can impose their Racketeering fee of $2,499.00 on established “In Use” Cyberspace “Marks” ~ “Trade Names” and “Trademarks” in the United States; and stemming from the United States, all governed under US IP Law, using the “.COM” in existing Cyberspace.
    The United States GAC representative’s at ICANN, being the NTIA, should communicate with the FTC & FCC; and protect American consumers from harm, by obstructing the departure from the Caymen Islands of all digital communications on the “.SUCKS” Server #, which funnily enough “points” or rotates back to ICANN, in California, see below from Robex.
    This constitutes with US Law, the act of “contributory infringement” because ICANN are the Hosts & Sponsors with control of the Instrumentality used to infringe, not just by the TLD, but by the IP# too.
    The American Government has it within it’s powers a duty to protect US {Global} consumers online; and consumers are protected when Commerce isn’t held hostage to easily assessable & created fakes, frauds or counterfeit enterprises online.
    This truly is the Jurisdiction & Venue of the United States Supreme Court, to resolve.
    Cheers, Graham.
    Record Type: IP Address
    NetRange: –
    NetHandle: NET-127-0-0-0-1
    Parent: ()
    NetType: IANA Special Use
    Organization: Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA)
    Updated: 2013-08-30
    OrgName: Internet Assigned Numbers Authority
    OrgId: IANA
    Address: 12025 Waterfront Drive
    Address: Suite 300
    City: Los Angeles
    StateProv: CA
    PostalCode: 90292
    Country: US
    Updated: 2012-08-31
    OrgAbuseHandle: IANA-IP-ARIN
    OrgAbuseName: ICANN
    OrgAbusePhone: +1-310-301-5820
    OrgTechHandle: IANA-IP-ARIN
    OrgTechName: ICANN
    OrgTechPhone: +1-310-301-5820
    DNS Records
    Number of IP Records (after resolving CNAME:s and CDN analysis and deduplication): 1
    Number of name servers in zone: 4
    Number of mail servers: 1
    IP Records:
    Name servers in zone:
    Mail servers:
    The summary displays data on what Internet Protocols a domain points to (A-records for IPv4, and AAAA-records for IPv6). It also contains information on name- and mail servers.
    Which IP numbers does sucks use?
    SUCKS uses the IP number only which also MG.CRS, 276780.NEW, 45767.NEW and tens of thousand other use.
    Which name servers does sucks use?
    The four name servers A.NIC.SUCKS, B.NIC.SUCKS, C.NIC.SUCKS and D.NIC.SUCKS together
    Which mail servers does sucks use?

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