ICANN .Sucks Up To Internet Regulators In ‘Predatory’ Domain Name Case

Regulation

Cheeky domain name being “illicitly” flogged to companies that are scared their trademark will get the .SUCKS gTLD treatment

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the DNS body behind the recent raft of .X generic top-level domains (gTLD), is requesting the help of US and Canadian Internet regulators in determining the legality of the latest crazy gTLD, .sucks.

ICANN has alleged in a letter to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Canadian Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) that .sucks domain names are being sold to trademark owners in a pre-emptive defensive manner, as the owners of the trademarks are worried that their brands may end up with a .sucks domain name.

Ulterior motives

A company called Vox Populi, which snapped up all the rights to the .sucks domains, is claimed to be charging companies up to $2,500 (£1,700) to register the domains before they are bought up by those with ulterior motives. Canadian company Vox Populi and its parent company Momentous are denying anything fishy is going on.

The letter, addressed to the chairwoman of the US FTC Edith Ramirez and Deputy Minister of Canada’s OCA John Knubley reads: “One of the Top Level Domains that ICANN has approved is “.SUCKS.

“[Vox Populi Registry Inc.] are in the process of selling registrations of second-level domain names, such as EXAMPLE.SUCKS, through registrars that sell directly to consumers.”

ICANN then called the business practices of Vox Populi “illicit”, as well as “predatory, exploitative and coercive”.

ICANN cannot make a move on Vox Populi as there are currently no rules being broken, hence the letter to the industry bodies pleading for help.

.sucksThe letter continued: “ICANN is concerned about the contentions of illicit actions being expressed, but notes that ICANN has limited expertise or authority to determine the illegality of Vox Populi’s positions, which we believe fall within your respective regulatory regimes.”

Vox Populi shelled out $185,000 for the .sucks domain, where ICANN granted the gTLD in a private auction that included Vox Populi rivals.

In a sense, ICANN is effectively asking the FTC and OCA to clean up its own mess. ICANN’s Intellectual Property Constituency (IPC) said that the fees Vox Populi is requesting will stop some trademark owners from being able to buy their respective .sucks domain name, even though the gTLD is currently in the ‘sunrise’ registration period, the time when companies buy up their trademarks to prevent trolls and cybersquatters from getting in on them. The remaining .sucks domains that haven’t been bought go on general sale May 29, so ICANN doesn’t have long to determine the legality of Vox Populi’s actions.

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