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.
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?
The Canadian trade regulator has sent ICANN a big old “Whatever” in response to queries about the legalities of .sucks.
The response, sent by Industry Canada’s deputy minister John Knubley yesterday, basically says if the intellectual property lobby doesn’t like .sucks it can always take its complaints to the courts.
Other than opening and closing paragraphs of pleasantries, this is all Knubley’s letter (pdf) says:
Canada’s laws provide comprehensive protections for all Canadians. Canada has intellectual property, competition, criminal law and other relevant legal frameworks in place to protect trademark owners, competitors, consumers and individuals. These frameworks are equally applicable to online activities and can provide recourse, for example, to trademark owners concerned about the use of the dotSucks domains, provided that trademark owners can demonstrate that the use of dotSucks domains infringes on a trademark. Intellectual property rights are privately held and are settled privately by the courts.
There’s not much to go on in there; it could quite easily be a template letter.
But it seems that Vox Populi Registry has been cleared to go ahead with the launch of .sucks, despite IP owner complaints, at least as far as the US and Canadian regulators are concerned.
The Federal Trade Commission was equally noncommittal in its response to ICANN two weeks ago.
Vox Populi is based in Canada. It’s still not entirely clear why the FTC was asked its opinion.
Pricing for .sucks names in sunrise starts at around $2,000.
ICANN told DI in April that it was in “fact finding” mode, trying to see if Vox Pop was in breach of any laws or its Registry Agreement.
The .sucks domain is due to hit general availability one week from now, June 19, with a suggested retail price of $250 a year.
If anything, the $250 says much more about Vox Pop’s business model than the sunrise fees, in my opinion.
The forthcoming .bank gTLD has received over 500 applications for domains during its sunrise period, according to the registry.
fTLD Registry Services tweeted the stat earlier this week.
.BANK surpasses 500 Sunrise applications and this period ends on June 17 (see http://t.co/qkb8lwNInB), #.BANK
— fTLD Registry (@fTLD_Registry) June 9, 2015
Its sunrise period doesn’t even end until June 17. Sunrise periods tend to be back-weighted, so the number could get a lot higher.
Five hundred may not sound like a lot — and applications do not always convert to registrations — but in the context of new gTLDs it’s very high.
Discounting .porn and .adult, both of which racked up thousands of names across their various sunrise phases, the previous high for a sunrise was .london, with just over 800 names registered.
It’s not unusual for a sunrise to get under 100 names. A year ago, I calculated that the average was 144.
The 500+ .bank number is especially surprising as it’s going to be a very tightly controlled gTLD where the chance of cybersquatting is going to be virtually nil.
All .bank registrants will be manually vetted to ensure they really are banks, substantially mitigating the need for defensive registrations.
Could this be an indication that .bank will actually get used?
ICM Registry says it managed to comfortably beat its own expectations for annual sales within the first eight hours of .porn and .adult going into general availability yesterday.
CEO Stuart Lawley said that there were 10,038 .porn domains and 8,277 .adult domains in its registry at the end of yesterday.
The company’s new gTLD applications with ICANN had predicted 10,000 .porn domains and 3,000 .adult domains at the end of the first year of availability, he said.
“We are therefore delighted to have exceeded those numbers on day one of GA,” he said. “We are particularly pleased with the high numbers from .adult.”
The majority of the names were registered either during the sunrise periods (ICM had two per TLD) or the recently ended “domain matching” program, which gave .xxx owners first dibs on matching .porn and .adult names.
A month ago, the company said .porn received 3,995 registrations while .adult had 3,902 at the end of the sunrises.
Earlier this week, after domain matching ended, Lawley said that .porn had almost 7,500 names while .adult had almost 7,000.
ICM will launch .sex in September.