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Famous Four following .sucks playbook with premium pricing for brands?

Kevin Murphy, June 21, 2015, 11:52:37 (UTC), Domain Registries

New gTLD registry Famous Four Media has slapped general availability prices of $500 and up on domain names matching famous brands.

The company plans to shortly introduce eight “premium” pricing tiers, ranging from $200 a year to $10,000 a year.

The first to launch, on July 8, will be its “brand protection tier”, which will carry a $498 registry fee.

Famous Four told its registrars that the tier “will provide an additional deterrent to cyber-squatters for well-known brands ensuring that domain names in this tier will not be eligible for price promotions”.

The gTLDs .date, .faith and .review will be first to use the tiered pricing structure.

It’s not entirely clear what brands will be a part of the $498 tier, or how the registry has compiled its list, but registrars have been given the ability to ask for their clients’ trademarks to be included.

I asked Famous Four for clarification a few days ago but have not yet had a response.

While other registries, such as Donuts, used tiered pricing for GA domains, I’m only aware of one other that puts premium prices on brands: .sucks.

Vox Populi has a trademark-heavy list of .sucks domains it calls Market Premium — formerly Sunrise Premium — that carry a $1,999-a-year registry fee.

Unlike Vox Pop, Famous Four does not appear to be planning a subsidy that would make brand-match domains available at much cheaper prices to third parties.

Famous Four’s gTLDs have seen huge growth in the last month or two, largely because it’s been selling domains at a loss.

.science, for example, has over 300,000 registrations — making it the third-largest new gTLD — because Famous Four’s registry fee has been discounted to just $0.25 from May to July.

The same discount applies to .party (over 195,000 names in its zone) and .webcam (over 60,000).

Those three gTLDs account for exactly half of the over 22,000 spam attacks that used new gTLD domains in March and April, according to Architelos’ latest abuse report.

With names available at such cheap prices, it would not be surprising if cybersquatters are abusing these gTLDs as much as the spammers.

Will intellectual property owners believe a $498+ reg fee is a useful deterrent to cybersquatting?

Or will they look upon this move as “predatory”, as they did with .sucks?

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Comments (3)

  1. cowabunga says:

    It’s a premium fee. It’s not annual. Renewal is standard domain cost.

  2. A story from 20 years ago that may become true in regards to these new gTLDs. Back in 1995, I remember when ALL email was legitimate. There was no such thing as spam. It was a beautiful thing. I even starting allowing people to register free email addresses at PalmSprings.com. The internet continued to grow and around 1998 people were taking advantage of email and using them for spam. It become too costly and we ultimately ended our email service.

    I worry about the same thing in regards to giving away the new gTLDs cheaply without oversight for their use. If the same abuse happens, will the public start to look at new extensions as problematic? If that starts to become the case, then the public will reluctant to engage in them and go with what they have always trusted; .com.

    As a preventative measure, ICANN would have to police and remedy the abuse but I don’t see that happening. The free-for-all will continue IMO.

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