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.

Evaluating domain names on ValPak coupons

The majority of advertisers in a ValPak coupon mailer include a web address on their ad.

Valpak

The majority of coupons in this ValPak mailer included a domain name.

I recently analyzed a coupon mailer I received to see if local businesses are promoting their websites in advertisements. Today I tore open a ValPak mailer to see if the results would be similar. They were, with some slight differences.

Compared to the RSVP coupons, ValPak had a bit more of the national advertisers, such as Omaha Steaks. Here’s how it broke down: Click here to continue reading…

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…

NameJet Expired Domain Name Review

Joseph Peterson takes a look at recent expired domain name sales at NameJet.

NameJet’s 2 top-performing expired domain auctions from the past week overlap with stories in the news elsewhere. KYTE.com ($5.3k) brings to mind a UDRP filed against KITE.com, which was just reported 4 days ago. Are the events related? NameJet’s auction precedes the UDRP story by 3 days, and the buyer is located in China. So perhaps not.

You will remember that Alibaba’s 2014 IPO was the largest initial public offering ever. What are the odds that the Chinese buyer of Alibab.com ($5.2k) had something in mind other than this multi-billion-dollar Chinese company? Setting that question aside, it’s significant that the top 2 purchases are (not for the first time) Chinese. Click here to continue reading…

.Ping fetches $1.5M at auction, .Srl goes for $400,000

Two two-way races for new top level domain names have been settled.

Two top level domain name contention sets were settled in auctions yesterday.

Golf company Ping (Karsten) won .Ping for $1,501,000. It was in contention with Radix. Thus, .Ping will become a .brand instead of a generic domain name.

InternetX won the auction for .Srl at only $400,000, beating Google. Srl is a corporate identifier similar to LLC for Limited Liability Company.

InternetX already runs .LTDA, a similar corporate identifier short for “Sociedade limitada” that is commonly used in Brazil. .LTDA launched in December and has about 150 registrations.

$400,000 is the lowest amount paid so far for a top level domain name at an ICANN “Auction of Last Resort”.