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That mystery $1 million .sucks fee explained, and it’s probably not what you thought

Vox Populi has agreed to pay ICANN up to $1 million in extra fees in order to pay off the debts of affiliated deadbeat registrars, I can reveal.
The formerly mysterious fees, which comprise a $100,000 start-up payment and $1 for each of its first 900,000 .sucks transactions, were discovered by ICANN’s Intellectual Property Constituency, as I reported Friday.
I speculated that the payments may have related to ICANN padding out its legal defense fund, rather like it did with .xxx a few years ago, but it turns out that guess was dead wrong.
ICANN has told DI:

Some affiliates of Momentous, the majority owners of Vox Populi Registry, had previously defaulted on substantial payments to ICANN. Given this previous experience, ICANN negotiated special contract provisions in the Vox Populi Registry Agreement to provide additional financial assurances. Those provisions were added solely for that reason and were not related to the nature of this specific TLD.

I gather that the affiliated companies in question were shell registrars that went out of business a while ago.
Momentous company Pool.com used large numbers of empty registrar accreditations in order to drop-catch expiring domain names. Fairly standard practice in the drop-catching game.
But many of these entities were shut down, owing ICANN a whole bunch of cash in unpaid registrar fees.
ICANN has now chosen to recoup the money by extracting it from the .sucks registry, which according to its new gTLD application is majority-owned by Momentous.
The .sucks contract calls the $100,000 a “registry access fee” and the $1-a-name charge as “registry administration fee”.
For avoidance of doubt, this post is not an April Fool joke.

“Halt perverted .sucks shakedown now!” demands IPC

Kevin Murphy, March 27, 2015, 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.

Here’s why trademark owners will think .sucks sucks

Kevin Murphy, March 13, 2015, Domain Registries

Vox Populi Registry is to launch its .sucks gTLD at the end of the month, and its plans are likely to piss off trademark owners no end.
As previously reported, the company has backpedaled on its idea of pricing its sunrise period names at $25,000 per name per year, but it’s introducing some new concepts that seem almost designed to get hackles up in the IP community.
From March 30 to May 29, any company with a trademark registered in the Trademark Clearinghouse will be able to buy their matching .sucks domains at sunrise for $2,499. That’s also the annual renewal fee.
It’s a tenth of the price previously touted, but still pretty steep even by sunrise standards.
Vox Pop isn’t doing anything particularly unusual with its sunrise, which is governed by policies closely regulated by ICANN.
But its big new idea is its “Sunrise Premium” list, a list of strings dominated by famous trademarks.
Vox Pop CEO John Berard told DI yesterday that the Sunrise Premium list has been compiled from strings registered or blocked in other TLDs’ sunrise periods.
While he declined to characterize it as a list of trademarks, he acknowledged that it will be trademark-heavy.
If your mark is on this list, you will never be able to get a .sucks domain at the regular general availability retail price of $249 a year. It will always be $2,499 a year.
Despite the name, Sunrise Premium names are only available during general availability, which begins June 1.
On the one hand, this mandatory premium pricing for the world’s most well-defended marks appears to have benefits for some trademark owners.
While Sunrise Premium names are not restricted to owners of matching marks, the $2,499 fee applies whether you’re the mark owner, a legitimate third-party registrant, or a cybersquatter.
So the high price looks like a deterrent to cybersquatting, suggesting that Vox Pop is fighting from the IP corner.
But then we discover that Sunrise Premium names will never be eligible for the .sucks “Block” service — similar to .xxx’s Sunrise B, a Block is a non-resolving registry reservation — which is expected to retail at a discounted $199 per year.
Berard said that the registry wants to encourage use.
“If you are on the Sunrise Premium list or want a premium name, those can’t be blocked,” Berard said. “It’s all part and parcel of us trying to put more power in the hands of individuals and to cultivate a commitment on behalf of the commercial world to participate in the dialogue.”
But the fact remains: if you have a track record of defensively registering your trademark, Vox Pop is essentially penalizing you with higher fees.
Feel those hackles rising yet?
Vox Pop’s stated goals are to give companies a way to manage customer feedback and individuals a way to exercise their rights to criticize.
“A company would be smart to register its name because of the value that consumer criticism has in improving customer loyalty, delivering good customer service, understanding new product and service possibilities,” Berard said.
“They’re spending a lot more on marketing and customer service and research. This domain can another plank in that platform,” he said. “On the other hand, we also want to make sure that these names are also accessible to individuals who have something to say.”
Companies on the Sunrise Premium list have an additional thing to worry about: the .sucks Consumer Advocate Subsidy, which will bring the price of a .sucks domain down to $9.95 per year.
The subsidy will only be available to registrants unaffiliated with the trademark-owning company, and they’ll have to direct their domains to a discussion forum platform called Everything.sucks.
Berard said Everything.sucks will be operated by a third party, but could not yet disclose the details.
The subsidy program will be available on regular and Sunrise Premium names, but not Sunrise names. It is not expected to launch until September.
It’s not yet clear how flexible and configurable the service will be.
It seems likely that if somebody wants to write a blog, say, criticizing a certain company, product, service or public figure, they will incur the usual $249 annual reg fee.
It’s not exactly “free” speech.
On the whole, the finalized policies and fees may look like they’re specifically designed to irk the IP lobby, but they do seem to be aligned with Vox Pop’s mission statement.
If you’re of the view that trademark owners should have the sole right to use the string matching their mark as a domain name, you’re likely to be unhappy with what Vox Pop is doing.
If, on the other hand, you’re an advocate of the right of every free person to stick it to The Man, you may view the policies more favorably.
Either way, it could be a money-spinner for Vox Pop.
I’m expecting .sucks to be only the third new gTLD to top 1,000 sunrise registrations (assuming .porn and .adult will be the first).
Assuming the registry’s slice of the $2,499 fee is over $2,000, the company is looking to clear in excess of $2 million in annually recurring sunrise revenue alone.

.porn now the biggest new gTLD sunrise

Kevin Murphy, March 10, 2015, Domain Registries

.porn and .adult have taken the crown of the most-subscribed new gTLD sunrise periods to date.
The two ICM Registry spaces opened up for registrations from users of the Trademark Clearinghouse on March 2.
A little over a week later, the company tells DI that both gTLDs have individually exceeded the previous sunrise record holder.
My understanding is that .london was the new gTLD with the most sunrise registrations, selling just over 800 names to TMCH customers during its combined sunrise/landrush, which ended last July.
ICM revealed in a webinar last week that it expected its new gTLDs to have to biggest sunrise numbers to date.
“Both .porn and .adult will have exceeded that [.london] number comfortably,” ICM president Stuart Lawley confirmed to DI today.
.adult is “almost neck and neck” with .porn, Lawley said.
The numbers are still pretty small compared to ICM’s 2003-round gTLD, .xxx, which had over 80,000 sunrise applications in October 2011.
They’re also pretty small compared to the TMCH’s overall number of registrations, which at the last public disclosure was a little under 35,000.
But ICM has another couple opportunities for trademark owners to defensively register that may work out cheaper.
First, from April 6 to April 30 companies that bought non-resolving “blocked” names in the .xxx Sunrise B will be able to block the same strings in .porn and .adult.
ICM says registrars are offering discounts for five-year blocks.
Then, from May 6 to May 31 the Domain Matching program starts. That’s open to any .xxx registrant, defensive or otherwise, but not to those with .xxx Sunrise B blocks.

.xxx to sell at .com prices to pump .porn launch

ICM Registry is to offer .xxx domain names at dramatically reduced prices, which could be in line with .com pricing at some registrars, for the month of April.
At least one registrar plans to offer .xxx names at about $13 for the duration of the offer.
.porn and .adult are set to go to general availability June 4. Before then, there will be a series of launch phases aimed at giving trademark owners and .xxx registrants plenty of opportunity to defensively register.
One phase, Domain Matching, will run from May 6 to May 31.
During DM, owners of .xxx names will be able to get their matching .porn and .adult domains (assuming they haven’t been claimed in the prior sunrise periods) at a reduced fee.
The discount period in April will enable registrants to pre-qualify for .porn’s Domain Matching by buying .xxx names at a much reduced price.
.porn and .adult prices during general availability are expected to be the same as in .xxx, which retails for around $100 ($62 going to ICM).
I don’t know what ICM’s registry fee during the discount period is, but the registrar EnCirca said it plans to sell a bundle of .xxx, .porn and .adult for $39 during April, which works out to $13 each.
EnCirca and 101domain appear to be pricing DM for a registration in a single TLD at about $19.
ICM’s gesture follows its admission in November that .xxx registrants would not get the free, perpetual block of matching .porn and .adult names that the registry had originally planned to offer.
The company has run a deep-discount program once before, in May 2013, when it sold .xxx at .com prices and saw 13,136 adds, compared to 1,131 in the previous month.

.xxx boss says new gTLD registries need to “wake up”

Kevin Murphy, February 23, 2015, Domain Registries

ICM Registry president Stuart Lawley may be just weeks away from launching his second and third gTLD registries, but that doesn’t mean he has a positive outlook on new gTLDs in general.
“I think people need to wake up,” he told DI in a recent interview. “If you do the math on some of these numbers and prospective numbers, it just doesn’t stack up for a profitable business.”
“The new ‘Well Done!’ number seems to be a lot less than it was six months ago or 12 months ago,” he said.
Lawley said he’s among the most “bearish” in the industry when it comes to new gTLD prospects. And that goes for ICM’s own .porn, .sex and .adult, which are due to launch between March and September this year.
While he’s sure they’ll be profitable, and very bullish on the search engine optimization benefits that he says registrants could be able to achieve, he’s cautious about what kind of registration volumes can be expected. He said:

If you add up everybody that has ever bought a .xxx name, including the Sunrise B defensives, we have got a target market of about 250,000 names. People to go back to and say, “Look, you still have a .xxx or you had a .xxx at some stage. Therefore, we think you may be interested in buying .porn, .sex or .adult for exactly the same reasons.”
So, our expectations to sell to a whole new market outside of those quarter of a million names is probably quite limited.

Lawley said that he believes that the relatively poor volume performance of most new gTLDs over the last year will cause many registrars to question whether it’s worth their time and money to offer them.

I can see why registrars can’t be bothered. How many of these am I going to sell? Am I going to sell two hundred of them? Am I going to make five dollars per name? That’s one thousand dollars. It’s not worth it to me to put in ten thousand dollars worth of labor and effort to make one thousand dollars in revenue. So, I think that’s a challenge that many of the small lone player TLDs may face.

Lawley said he’s skeptical about the ability of major portfolio players, such as Donuts, to effectively market their hundreds of gTLDs, many of which are targeted at niche vertical markets.
He said in an ideal world a gTLD would need to spend $20 million to $30 million a year for a few years in order to do a proper PR job on a single TLD — ICM spent about $8 million to $9 million, $5.5 million of which was on US TV spots — and that’s just not economically viable given how many names are being sold.
But he added that he thinks it’s a good thing that some new gTLDs are seeing a steady and fairly linear number of daily additions, saying it might point to better long-term stability.

A lot of the TLDs that seem to be doing okay — .club for argument’s sake and several others in that ilk — seem to be doing their three hundred domains per day ADD, or 32 or 12 or whatever the number is, in a relatively linear fashion six or seven months after launch, which I think is potentially positive if one extrapolates that out.

The full interview, which also addresses SEO, dot-brands, registrar pay-for-placement and smart search, can be read by DI PRO subscribers here.

After lawsuit, YouPorn buys into .xxx portfolio

Kevin Murphy, December 8, 2014, Domain Registries

Porn site operator Manwin Licensing, known to the domain industry for its antitrust lawsuit against ICANN and ICM Registry that was settled last year, has taken over a portfolio of .xxx domains from a staunch .xxx supporter.
Now known as MindGeek, the YouPorn operator is to manage sites for Really Useful, one of the most enthusiastic buyers of premium .xxx domain names.
Really Useful was the first company to have a live .xxx web site — casting.xxx. It has also bought premiums such as orgasms.xxx, bdsm.xxx, mature.xxx, publicsex.xxx, czech.xxx, tubes.xxx, teen.xxx and mom.xxx directly from ICM.
Its spokesperson, “JT”, has expressed his support for .xxx in a few ICM press releases.
MindGeek is also taking over a selection of .com domains as part of the deal.
As Manwin, MindGeek sued ICANN and ICM in late 2011, alleging breaches of US antitrust law. It claimed the need for defensive registrations when .xxx launched amounted to “extortion”.
The suit was settled by ICM last year, but not before a California court ruled that ICANN is not immune to antitrust law.
Now, MindGeek seems to think .xxx domains are okay. Its director of global sales, “Nick P”, reportedly said: “JT’s content and brands are among the hottest on the Internet right now and the future sites planned are phenomenal.”
In unrelated news, MindGeek came under fire this week for producing a series of porn videos that allegedly depict the simulated rape of illegal immigrants by US border patrols.

ICM will NOT offer free .porn names to .xxx buyers

Kevin Murphy, November 10, 2014, Domain Registries

ICM Registry has reneged on its promise to “grandfather” trademark owners and other .xxx registrants in its forthcoming .sex, .porn and .adult new gTLDs.
While the changes are sure to infuriate trademark owners and .xxx registrants, the company insists that ICANN is to blame for blocking its original plans.
Originally, ICM had promised to reserve every .sex, .porn and .adult domain that matched an existing .xxx domain — if you owned or had blocked example.xxx then example.porn and so on would be reserved.
There was not to be a charge for any of these reservations.
The current versions of ICM’s new gTLD applications are unequivocal — nobody who owns a .xxx name or bought a block will be charged for the equivalent .sex, .porn or .adult names or blocks.
On names “blocked” by trademark owners during the .xxx Sunrise B period, the applications state:

All existing blocked names under the .XXX Sunrise B program… will not need to take any action to have those same names blocked in the new gTLD. All of these matching names will be automatically reserved from registration in the new TLD, free of charge.

On names registered in general availability, the applications state:

all existing .XXX names will be reserved from registration in the new gTLD and only registrants of that .XXX name will be given the opportunity to initially register that corresponding .XXX name in the new gTLD. If the .XXX registrant elects to register the name in the new gTLD, this can be done for a low annual fee. If the .XXX registrant does not elect to register the name in the new gTLD, then the new, matching, gTLD name will be reserved on [ICM’s] registry-reserved list at NO cost.

While neither application has been amended yet, neither of these statements are any longer true, ICM has confirmed.
Instead, the company’s new Domain Matching Program anticipates an extra launch phase between Sunrise and general availability. Under ICANN rules, it’s a Limited Registration Period.
During this month-long phase, anyone who owns a .xxx domain or block will be able to purchase the matching new gTLD names, unless it has already been registered in the Sunrise period.
What does this all mean…
For regular .xxx registrants?
If you own a .xxx domain, you no longer get a free permanent reservation on the matching .porn, .sex and .adult names while you make up your mind whether to buy them.
Instead, you’ll have to buy it during the 30-day DMP window.
ICM’s fee for DMP and Sunrise will be the same as for general availability, ICM CEO Stuart Lawley told DI.
Also, if there’s a trademark in the Trademark Clearinghouse that matches your second-level string, that trademark’s owner will be able to register the matching names before you get a chance.
Remember, not all TMCH users are legitimate brands. Some are domain investors gaming the system.
For premium .xxx buyers?
The changes may also concern registrants of “premium” .xxx names, many of which may have assumed they’d get the matching .porn, .sex and .adult reservations free of charge.
Porn site operators Really Useful and Barron Innovations, which have spent millions apiece on premium .xxx names such as teen.xxx and sex.xxx, have both said in ICM press releases that the grandfathering program formed an important part of their decision-making.
“We look forward to enjoying the benefits of ICM’s unique Domain Matching Program, which gives .XXX holders an opportunity to secure matching .XXX domain names in .PORN, .ADULT and .SEX,” Barron spokesperson Shay Efron said when the $3 million sale of sex.xxx was announced.
“We will be speaking individually to each premium name holder who purchased premium names after we had announced the original grandfathering plan,” Lawley told us.
It seems that the premium string will be registry-reserved, however, so there’s no chance of them being snapped up during Sunrise.
For brands?
If you’re a brand who bought a .xxx block during the Sunrise B period back in 2011, you no longer get grandfathered into a free permanent reservation in .sex, .adult and .porn.
Instead, you’ll have to buy your names as usual either during Sunrise, DMP or — if you feel like taking a risk — general availability.
The problem is: you only qualify for Sunrise if you’re registered in the TMCH, and most Sunrise B buyers are not.
Something like 70,000 names were registered during the .xxx Sunrise B period three years ago, but there are only 33,000 marks registered in the TMCH today.
The owners of more than half of the Sunrise B blocks, who may have thought their blocks would carry over to ICM’s three new gTLDs free of charge, currently do not even have the right to buy their names in Sunrise.
If you have a .xxx Sunrise B block AND are in the TMCH, you may find yourself competing with other trademark owners with matching marks during the .porn, .adult and .sex Sunrise periods.
Any Sunrise B match not registered during the Sunrise and DMP phases will be up for grabs during GA, just the same as any other domain.
Lawley reminds us that the .xxx Sunrise B predated ICM’s new gTLD applications by many months — nobody bought a block in 2011 thinking it would be enforced in all four gTLDs.
He added that ICM has “recently secured a unique offer through the TMCH that will enable trademark owners to register with the TMCH for one year, at a reduced fee.”
Why did ICM make the changes?
The changes put the registry on a collision course with the Intellectual Property Constituency of ICANN, which looks out for the interests of trademark owners and is not a fan of porn-themed TLDs.
“The IPC is going to collectively shit a brick,” one IPC member told us.
But the IPC, which has been unshakable when it comes to the strict enforcement of ICANN’s mandatory new gTLD rights protection mechanisms, may have shot itself in the foot to an extent.
According to ICM, it’s ICANN’s fault, and indirectly the IPC’s, that it’s had to abandon free grandfathering.
In a statement sent to DI, the company said:

Throughout the ICANN approval process, ICM pursued multiple pathways to try and ensure its original “grandfathering plan”. However, due to technological concerns and strong trademark protection policies that ICANN’s intellectual property community requires in all new gTLDs, ICANN flatly rejected ICM’s grandfathering plan.

The mandatory new gTLD rights protection mechanisms enforced by ICANN means that no domain names may be set aside before trademark owners have had a crack at the Sunrise period, ICM said:

Those rights protections require that TMCH-validated Sunrise Holders get the first priority for names in any new gTLD and also contain certain prohibitions on all registries from earmarking domain names for third parties.

However, ICM has still managed to set aside an unknown number of names as part of its Premium Domains Program — those names will be immune from registration during both Sunrise and the DMP.
It’s also going to reserve, free of charge, a bunch of “culturally sensitive” names — these are strings that members of the ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee asked to be reserved in .xxx.
Names related to child abuse material will also be registry-reserved at no cost to the child protection agencies that requested the blocks when .xxx launched.
Plenty of stuff is getting reserved, just not Sunrise B blocks.
ICANN’s rules against “earmarking” domains may have prevented ICM offering matching domains to regular .xxx registrants, but it’s hard to see how that would prevent a .xxx block carrying over to .porn. Blocks are not assigned to a specific registrant; they belong to the registry.
The .adult and .porn gTLDs are set to start their 30-day Sunrise periods March 1, 2015. The 30-day DMP for both will begin April 15.
The .sex gTLD was contested, so it’s running a little behind. ICM expects to launch it later in 2015.

For only the second time, ICANN tells the GAC to get stuffed

Kevin Murphy, November 3, 2014, Domain Policy

ICANN’s board of directors has decided to formally disagree with its Governmental Advisory Committee for what I believe is only the second time in the organization’s history.
In a letter to new GAC chair Thomas Schneider today, ICANN chair Steve Crocker took issue with the fact that the GAC recently advised the board to cut the GNSO from a policy-making decision.
The letter kick-starts a formal “Consultation Procedure” in which the board and GAC try to reconcile their differences.
It’s only the second time, I believe, that this kind of procedure — which has been alluded to in the ICANN bylaws since the early days of the organization — has been invoked by the board.
The first time was in 2010, when the board initiated a consultation with the GAC when they disagreed about approval of the .xxx gTLD.
It was all a bit slapdash back then, but the procedure has since been formalized somewhat into a seven-step process that Crocker outlined in an attachment to his letter (pdf) today.
The actual substance of the disagreement is a bit “inside baseball”, relating to the long-running (embarrassing, time-wasting) saga over protection for Red Cross/Red Crescent names in new gTLDs.
Back in June at the ICANN 50 public meeting in London, the GAC issued advice stating:

the protections due to the Red Cross and Red Crescent terms and names should not be subjected to, or conditioned upon, a policy development process

A Policy Development Process is the mechanism through which the multi-stakeholder GNSO creates new ICANN policies. Generally, a PDP takes a really long time.
The GNSO had already finished a PDP that granted protection to the names of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in multiple scripts across all new gTLDs, but the GAC suddenly decided earlier this year that it wanted the names of 189 national Red Cross organizations protected too.
And it wasn’t prepared to wait for another PDP to get it.
So, in its haste to get its changing RC/RC demands met by ICANN, the GAC basically told ICANN’s board to ignore the GNSO.
That was obviously totally uncool — a slap in the face for the rest of the ICANN community and a bit of an admission that the GAC doesn’t like to play nicely in a multi-stakeholder context.
But it would also be, Crocker told Schneider today, a violation of ICANN’s bylaws:

The Board has concerns about the advice in the London Communiqué because it appears to be inconsistent with the framework established in the Bylaws granting the GNSO authority to recommend consensus policies to the Board, and the Board to appropriately act upon policies developed through the bottom-up consensus policy developed by the GNSO.

Now that Crocker has formally initiated the Consultation Procedure, the process now calls for a series of written and face-to-face interactions that could last as long as six months.
While the GAC may not be getting the speedy resolution it so wanted, the ICANN board’s New gTLD Program Committee has nevertheless already voted to give the Red Cross and Red Crescent the additional protections the GAC wanted, albeit only on a temporary basis.

Momentous pays over $3 million for .sucks

Kevin Murphy, November 3, 2014, Domain Registries

Momentous Corp, whose .sucks application has been branded “predatory”, has won the three-way contention set for the new gTLD, according to sources with knowledge of the auction.
The company paid over $3 million for the string, one source said.
Momentous affiliate Vox Populi Registry beat Donuts and Top Level Spectrum, the other applicants, at a private auction I gather was managed by Applicant Auction.
It’s likely to be a controversial win.
Vox Populi has said it plans to charge $25,000 per year for a single Sunrise registration, leading some (myself included) to believe its business model is to exploit the fears of brand owners.
(UPDATE: The company has changed its mind about pricing. It says it won’t charge $25,000 after all.)
In March, US Senator Jay Rockefeller branded the plan nothing more than a “predatory shakedown scheme” with “no socially redeeming value”.
But the company’s CEO, John Berard, told DI last year that .sucks will be an “innovative part of customer service, retention and loyalty”.
Vox Populi is positioning .sucks as a customer feedback tool that companies can budget alongside other pricey items such as retaining a PR agency, for example.
The registry plans to have strict rules against cyber-bullying. The proposed $300-a-year general availability price tag is likely to keep it out of the hands of most schoolyard bullies.
There will also be a “zero tolerance” policy toward parked domains and pornography, according to its web site.
That’s unlikely to calm the concerns of trademark owners, however.
.sucks is a gTLD that many advisers have been characterizing as a “must-have” for companies worried about their online image, rather like .xxx was a few years ago.
Vox Populi started accepting Sunrise pre-registrations for $2,500 on its web site last December, but that offer does not appear to be still available.