IPC asks ICANN to halt controversial .Sucks domain name roll out

Calls it “predatory, exploitative and coercive” and points out bizarre contract with ICANN.

The Intellectual Property Constituency (IPC) is asking (pdf) ICANN to halt Vox Populi’s roll out of the .sucks top level domain name, calling the registry’s unique pricing “predatory, exploitative and coercive”.

The group is upset that Vox Populi plans to charge $2,499 to trademark owners to register their domains while offering a much cheaper price to non-trademark holders. The registry has also placed a premium on a number of brands that have submitted their marks to the Trademark Clearinghouse. This, the IPC claims, will discourage trademark holders from using a key rights protection mechanism.

IPC believes Vox Populi has set this up to encourage bad faith registrations by third parties and increase the likelihood of TM infringement.

In a letter to ICANN, IPC notes:

…Vox Populi may well be liable under the Post Delegation Dispute Resolution Policy (PDDRP), may in fact be accountable under the various intermediary liability laws around the world, and may have breached its Registry Agreement with ICANN (as well as ICANN Consensus Policies) by adding additional elements (the subsidy and “sunrise premium” name schemes) which materially alters the mandatory RPM in a manner which renders them detrimental to brand owners, and a new registry service in the form of its everything.sucks platform.

Everything.sucks is a third party arrangement in which people can register domains for a much lower price if they host them on a third party platform (and if they aren’t the trademark holder).

IPC also points out a peculiar change to the standard new TLD contract that’s in the .Sucks agreement with ICANN. It includes an additional fee for Vox Populi with $100,000 upfront and $1 for each additional transaction for up to 900,000 transactions. It’s very odd that a registry would agree to pay this additional amount to ICANN.

Summarizing the issue, the IPC writes:

We understand that ICANN has previously taken the position that it does not regulate pricing and that compliance has refused to take action based on a pricing issue. However, Vox Populi’s entire business model, and in particular, the categorization of TMCH-registered and protected marks as “premium” and “sunrise premium” for the purposes of setting exorbitant pricing schemes and using “subsidized” domain names to maximize the likelihood that trademarks which are not registered during Sunrise will be registered by third parties, goes far beyond mere “pricing.” This scheme constitutes an abuse and a perversion of the mandatory RPMs approved by the ICANN community, solely to make money off the backs of brand owners, and appears to violate the Registry Agreement as well as numerous Consensus Policies. It creates a mockery of the new TLD process and calls into question the very ability of ICANN as an organization to be able to administer the new gTLD program. This issue is particularly timely, given the accountability debate in which ICANN is embroiled.

Optilead Ltd. engaged in Reverse Domain Name Hijacking

WIPO panel determined UK company filed domain name dispute in bad faith.

UK company Optilead Ltd has been found to have engaged in reverse domain name hijacking over the domain name Optilead.com.

Optilead Ltd uses the domain name Optilead.co.uk for its shopping cart abandonment services. According the the World Intellectual Property Organization decision, Optilead.com was registered about 9 years before Optilead Ltd shows any trademark rights in the term Optilead.

As such, panelist Alistair Payne found that the French owner of the domain name had not registered the domain in bad faith.

Optilead Ltd had negotiated to purchase the domain name and apparently filed this UDRP as a way to “force the position” of the respondent, Alistair ruled. Alistair described why this case was brought in bad faith: Click here to continue reading…

ICANN budget proposal shows new TLDs weaker than expected

As registrars predicted, 2015 forecast was too rosy.

ICANN released its 2016 draft FY16 Operating Plan & Budget for the fiscal year beginning this July, and it shows weaker-than-expected new top level domain name results in the current year.

The group expects just $14.1 million in revenue from new TLDs for FY 2015 (which ends in June). That’s well below the budgeted $19.8 million. That $19.8 million number itself was a shadow of its original proposed forecast after ICANN slashed the number of new TLD registrations it expected. Click here to continue reading…

Trademark King still wants to TM famous marks and brands

Company submits specimens for many of its dubious trademark applications.

Trademarking.com

Proof of use for a domain name owned by another person?

The company that spent about $50,000 trying to trademark what are mostly famous brands, trademarks and common phrases is still pushing on after receiving initial refusals from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Indiana company Trademark King Inc filed over 150 trademark applications around Thanksgiving last year. The applications include a lot of famous brands (e.g. NCAA Final Four, Google.com), famous people (e.g. Elton John, Warren Buffet) and commerce terms (e.g. Labor Day Sale, Black Friday Deals).

All of the applications I checked when filed did not include the required specimen showing use in commerce. Click here to continue reading…

MarkMonitor: we won’t profit on .Sucks

Company will charge modest service fee on “Extortion domain”.

Brand protection domain name registrar MarkMonitor says it understands its clients will feel compelled to pay for a .sucks domain name, but it won’t profit from the registrations.

The company says it will charge just $25 above wholesale for the domain names. The registry has set a suggested retail price of $2,499 for a .sucks sunrise registration. Even without charging a mark-up, brand holders should expect to pay well over $1,000 for a sunrise domain name registration.

.Sucks has a business model that, well, sucks. Click here to continue reading…