‘.sucks’ registry unveils $2,499 registration fee

Vox Populi Registry, the operator of the ‘.sucks’ generic top-level domain (gTLD), has announced that sunrise registrations, as well as most brand-related registrations, will cost a recommended $2,499.

The sunrise period for ‘.sucks’ runs from March 30 to May 29 2015. During that period, brand owners may register their Trademark Clearinghouse-recorded marks in ‘.sucks’ for a fee of $2,499 per domain name, renewable annually at the same rate. Once the general availability phase begins (on June 1 2015), the registry will offer ‘sunrise premium’ names, which consist of names that match trademarks which have been registered across other new gTLDs. These sunrise premium names are determined subjectively by the registry and will cost approximately $2,499 (renewable annually at the same rate).

‘Premium’ names – that is, names that the registry deems to be particularly valuable – will also be available during the sunrise period, continuing through the general availability phase. The pricing for premium names starts at $299, but premium names registered in sunrise will renew at the higher $2,499 cost. ‘Standard’ registrations will be priced at $249 and will be available to register on a first come, first served basis during general availability. There will also be a $199 block option, which allows registrants to reserve a domain name but not to make active use of it (although the block option is not available for sunrise premium names).

Finally, the ‘consumer advocate subsidised’ option, available from September 2015, will allow individuals to register a domain at a subsidised cost of $9.95. Such domain names will point to the ‘everything.sucks’ forum, which will provide a free consumer forum. Sunrise premium names will be available under this option, but not to corporate registrants.

Counsel comment:

The ‘.sucks’ policies and pricing schemes are clearly calculated to exploit brand owners, under the guise of promoting free speech. While brand owners recognise the possibility of legitimate non-infringing uses of ‘.sucks’ domain names, ‘.sucks’ is encouraging bad-faith registration by charging brand owners significantly higher prices than it will charge other registrants through its subsidised ‘consumer advocacy’ pricing, all for the commercial gain of the registry. While the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers should not gratuitously stifle innovative business models in the new gTLDs, it must administer the programme in a way that promotes consumer trust, including strict adherence to the rights protection mechanisms. ‘.sucks’ is flouting these assurances.

Brian Winterfeldt, head of internet practice, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP

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