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.
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?
Forget .sucks — several less controversial new gTLD registries have come under fire from the likes of Google, Facebook and Adobe for charging sunrise fees as high as $17,000 for domains matching famous trademarks.
According to figures supplied to DI by ICANN’s Business Constituency, the domain instagram.love carries a $17,610 “Premium Name Fee” during the current sunrise period.
Instagram is of course the photo sharing service belonging to Facebook, and to the best of my knowledge not a dictionary word.
The domain facebook.love has a $8,930 fee, these figures show, while google.love costs $6,610, both in addition to sunrise fees of $350 and annual fees of $60.
The regular sunrise fee for .love comes in at $265 at some registrars.
The new gTLDs .design, .video, .wang, .wein, .rich and .top also seem to carry very high fees for brands such as Facebook, according to the BC’s numbers.
Google recently filed a public comment with ICANN which warned:
some registry operators are taking advantage of rights owners during Sunrise by charging exorbitant and extortionate Sunrise registration fees. Although such pricing policies are not strictly within the ICANN compliance mandate, they contravene the spirit of the RPMs [rights protection mechanisms], damage ICANN’s reputation, harm consumers in contravention of ICANN’s mandate to promote the public interest, and create disincentives for rights owners to take advantage of the Sunrise period
Similar comments were sent by the Intellectual Property Constituency, BC, and others.
The issue of registries charging super-high “premium” fees for trademarked names has been on the radar of the BC and the IPC since at least 2013.
It seems that in at least some cases, trademark owners are being hit with the higher fees because their marks are dictionary words that the registry has identified as premium due to their regular meaning.
For example, adobe.design is on the list of names provided by the BC, carrying a $1,175 registration fee.
But Andrew Merriam, director of business development at .design registry Top Level Design, denied that the software company is being targeted. Instead, he said “adobe” refers to the material used in architecture — its dictionary meaning.
He said: “Stucco.design, concrete.design, wood.design, granite.design (and many other materials and building styles) are all on the premium list, at varying prices. In fact, adobe.design is priced on the lower end of all these materials.”
Merriam said the registry’s premium fee for adobe.design is actually $250 and speculated that $1,175 could be the price quoted by Adobe’s brand protection registrar post-markup. It was $349 at Go Daddy, he said.
In other cases, trademarks may have found their way on to premium lists due to a lack of manual vetting by the registry, rather than nefarious targeting.
In the case of instagram.love, Evatt Merchant of .love registry Merchant Law Group told DI that Facebook can buy the name for the normal sunrise fee if it wants.
He told DI that trademark owners should contact the registry if they believe their marks have been wrongly given premium prices. He said:
While it is possible that some brand terms that are frequently googled have ended up on the premium list, valued based on their Google search frequency, there is a simple solution. During the sunrise period, brands seeking non-dictionary trademarked domain names can contact the registry so that a review of individual sunrise pricing can occur. As has already occurred, such requests will often result in the .LOVE TLD voluntarily offering to reduce their sunrise application cost to the base sunrise price and that would certainly be the case for Instagram.
ICANN’s does not regulate pricing in new gTLDs, but nevertheless the IPC and BC and their members have asked ICANN to include premium pricing of trademarked names in its upcoming review of rights protection mechanisms.
You’ve got to hand it to .sucks registry Vox Populi.
The pricing may be “exploitative” and “predatory”, as the intellectual property community believes, but damn if the the company doesn’t know how to generate headlines.
Vox Pop has just added a new ticker stream to its web site, fingering the 50 most sucky celebrities, politicians, companies, social ills and abstract concepts.
The lists have been compiled from “more than a million” searches for .sucks domains that Vox Pop has seen pass through its system, according to CEO and veteran PR man John Berard.
For some reason, TayloySwiftsCat.sucks is the most searched-for in the “Personalities” category.
I’m guessing this relates to a meme that has yet to reach my isolated, middle-aged, non-country-music-loving corner of the world.
Whatever the cat did to earn this ire, it’s presumably equivalent to what Barack Obama, Apple, cancer and just life generally has done to searchers on the .sucks web site.
Here are the lists of most-searched-for terms, as it stands on the .sucks web site right now.
- 1. TaylorSwiftsCat
- 2. JustinBeiber
- 3. KevinSpacey
- 4. Oprah
- 5. KimKardashian
- 6. KayneWest
- 7. GuyFieri
- 8. TomBrady
- 9. DonaldTrump
- 10. OneDirection
- 1. Life
- 2. YourMomma
- 3. This
- 4. Everyone
- 5. MyJob
- 6. MyLife
- 7. Reality
- 8. YouKnowWhat
- 9. Who
- 10. College
- 1. Cancer
- 2. Technology
- 3. Obesity
- 4. Racism
- 5. Depression
- 6. Meat
- 7. AIDS
- 8. Hate
- 9. Poverty
- 10. Government
- 1. Apple
- 2. Google
- 3. Microsoft
- 4. Facebook
- 5. Comcast
- 6. Walmart
- 7. CocaCola
- 8. McDonalds
- 9. Sony
- 10. Amazon
- 1. Obama
- 2. Hillary
- 3. TedCruz
- 4. RandPaul
- 5. StephenHarper
- 6. Putin
- 7. JebBush
- 8. TonyAbbott
- 9. DavidCameron
- 10. Democrats
Make no mistake, this is a headline-generating exercise by Vox Pop.
It comes as .sucks hits 10 days left on the clock for its $1,999+-a-pop sunrise period.
The company got a shed-load of mainstream media publicity when celebrities, starting with Kevin Spacey, started registering their names in .sucks several weeks ago.
It’s looking to get more headlines now, from lazy journalists and bloggers.
This is one of the first, for which I can only apologize.
Vox Populi Registry abandonment of the .sucks “Sunrise Premium” brand in favor of a new “Market Premium” service is just a renaming, designed to reduce confusion among trademark owners, according to the company.
As we reported Sunday, all mentions of Sunrise Premium — a list of .sucks domains that will always carry a recommended $2,499 a year fee — have been expunged from the Vox Pop web site.
They were replaced with references to Market Premium, which appeared to carry all the characteristics of Sunrise Premium albeit under a new name.
Now, CEO John Berard has confirmed to DI that the program has not changed.
Rather, the new name is an effort to distance it from the regular sunrise period, which is linked to the Trademark Clearinghouse.
The decision was made following last week’s International Trademark Association conference, Berard said:
It was an insight gained from talking to people at INTA15. The intellectual property people there asked us so many times about the sunrise premium list of names that we realized we had allowed a mis-perception to take hold. This is no and never has been a relationship between that list and the TradeMark ClearingHouse. It was surprising how many people thought we had access to the TMCH (we don’t) and merely cut-and-pasted its names.
That is why we renamed it. Now called Market Premium and more clearly presented as a set of names that over time have been viewed as valuable (because they have been registered before). Names on this list will carry a suggested price of $2,499 (yes, the same as was suggested in Sunrise). Given the list is of names that the market has decided has value, it is likely it will contain trademarks.
The change may also be an attempt to head off a contractual squabble with ICANN.
Last Friday, the ICANN Business Constituency told ICANN management that if the Sunrise Premium list had been populated by names drawn from the TMCH, that would have been a breach of the .sucks Registry Agreement.