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.