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First .sucks gripe site goes live

Just half a day after the new gTLD became available, the first .sucks sites have started going live.

So far, only one .sucks domain that does not belong to Vox Populi Registry is showing up in Google.

It’s dealman.sucks, and it does not appear to belong to the brand owner.

The domain, which was registered in the first minute of general availability this morning, leads to a “Coming Soon” page that merely says:

CONSUMER FORUM AND ARTICLES

A place for Dealman customers to have a voice and get clarification on issues important to them.

We’ll invite Dealman to contribute and engage with customers too.

Deal Man is a New Zealand web site selling clothes. It does not seem to be a particularly famous brand, but it has attracted criticism.

It has been the subject of recent negative media coverage in the Kiwi press and already has a gripe page on Facebook.

.sucks made millions from sunrise

Vox Populi could have made over $6 million from defensive registrations during its sunrise period.

The company’s first post-sunrise zone file was published today, and according to DI PRO it contains 3,394 domains, the vast majority of which were newly added today.

If all of these names were sunrise registrations, that would add up to an almost $6.8 million windfall for the registry.

However, I don’t think that’s a completely reliable figure. I believe that not all of the names are from sunrise.

The zone file seems to have been generated after .sucks general availability kicked off at a minute after midnight UTC this morning. ICANN publishes zone files around 5am UTC but the time it collects them from registries can vary between TLDs.

Poring over Whois records, I’ve found many examples of domains in the .sucks zone that have creation dates in the early minutes and hours of GA.

Many domains that are not obvious trademarks show creation times in the first 60 seconds of GA, suggesting they were pre-orders and sold for GA prices.

It’s also probable that some sunrise names are not showing up in the zone file yet due to a lack of name servers.

According to a source talking to DI last November, Vox Pop paid “over $3 million” for the right to run .sucks at auction.

It seems to have made its money back — and then some — purely from sunrise fees.

Sunrise names are charged at $1,999 a year by the registry. In GA, most names have a recommended retail price of $250. Strings considered valuable, many of them trademarks, carry a $2,500 “Market Premium” recommended price.

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

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?

Donuts makes private deal with wine-makers

Donuts inked a private side-deal with wine-making regions in order to launch the .wine and .vin new gTLDs

The company signed both Registry Agreements with ICANN late last week, after the wine regions and the European Union stopped complaining.

The EU and regions had filed Cooperative Engagement Process objections with ICANN, saying that Donuts should be forced to protect “geographic indicators” such as Napa Valley and Champagne.

CEPs are often precursors to Independent Review Process complaints, but both were dropped after Donuts came to a private deal.

“The CEP filed by the Wine Regions was withdrawn because we came to a satisfactory private arrangement with the Registry concerned, Donuts,” David Taylor of Hogan Lovells, who represented the wine-making regions, told DI.

Details of the deal have not been disclosed, but Donuts does not appear to have committed to anything that could create compliance problems with ICANN in future.

“It has been a successful negotiation between private parties that avoids policy precedents,” Taylor said. “There are no special changes to these registry agreements (e.g., no new PICs)”

PICs are Public Interest Commitments, enforceable addenda to Registry Agreements that oblige the registry to adhere to extra rules.

So are GIs protected in .wine or not? For now, Taylor won’t say.

“My view is that this is not a victory for either side of the GI debate,” he said. “This is a victory for the wine community (consumers and producers) and ultimately the new gTLD program.”

Barclays probably not breaching contract, says ICANN compliance chief

Barclays doesn’t seem to have violated its new gTLD registry agreements, despite admitting to criminal charges related to currency manipulation, according to ICANN’s top compliance executive.

Allen Grogan, chief contract compliance officer, told DI today that a “literal” reading of the Registry Agreements for .barclays and .barclaycard would not see the bank in breach.

“As far as I know we haven’t received a formal compliance complaint about it. If we received a complaint we would investigate it,” Grogan said.

“At first blush I wouldn’t see a clear-cut violation of the literal language of the agreement,” he said.

Barclays’ suitability to be a new gTLD registry has come under the spotlight in CircleID blog posts recently, first by domainer George Kirikos and then Internet Commerce Association counsel Phil Corwin.

All RAs contain a provision that allows ICANN to terminate the contract if any officer or director of the registry is convicted of a financially-related misdemeanor or any felony.

Barclays was one of five banks that recently fessed up to felony currency market fixing charges in the US, paying a combined $2.5 billion fine.

However, as Kirikos, Corwin and now Grogan have pointed out, the RA only talks about crimes committed by officers and directors, not the companies themselves.

Grogran pointed out that to hold a corporation accountable for its crimes long after the fact might be a bit excessive.

Criminal employees and directors can be fired, but a company cannot fire itself.

“Does that means for the next hundred years ICANN or no other corporation should do business with them?” he said.