NetNames.com has filed a complaint to European Competition Commission on Vox Populi’s .SUCKS pricing strategy
that had Brand owners charged $1,999 each year (wholesale) for a .SUCKS domain name compared to others that are charged just $10
According to NetNames.com which is a brand protection company representing many trademark holders, Vox Populi created an uneven pricing structure that effectively charges brands a premium fee irrespective of when they applied to register a .SUCKS new gTLD domain name.
NetNames said that “TLD registries traditionally launch with a Sunrise phase that is reserved for trademarks holders and this phase is usually offered at a premium price point. Vox Populi charged brands a minimum of $1,999 during this phase with yearly renewals charged at the same rate. In contrast, the General Availability phase – which is open to the general public after the Sunrise phase closes – was priced at $199 with yearly renewals also priced at that rate.”
“Prior to the launch of the Sunrise phase, Vox Populi announced that it would create a ‘Market Premium’ list that contained a mixture or trademark, brand and generic terms. The domains on this list would be priced at $1,999 in the General Availability instead of the original $199 price point.
“The list was released just a few days before the General Availability phase was open and contains close to 100,000 strings that are ineligible for purchase at the lower price point.”
:The uncertainty around which brands and trademarks would be added to the ‘Market Premium’ list forced many trademark holders into purchasing .SUCKS domains in the Sunrise period.”
“It is anticipated that Vox Populi will launch a ‘Consumer Advocate’ phase in the autumn of 2015 that will offer domains on the ‘Market Premium’ list to individuals wishing to register trademark and brand terms at a heavily subsidised price point that is expected to be beneath $10.”
“Vox Populi has said that “All .SUCKS domains registered under this subsidy program will be provided a free, hosted, consumer forum, wherebrand holders will have little control over what is said about them online.”
Gary McIlraith, CEO at NetNames said in a press release we received today:
“This differentiation in price, for the same domain which is determined by whether you are a brand holder or an individual, has created an uneven playing field. Vox Populi’s predatory pricing model is a blatant attempt to extort revenues from brand owners.
Offering consumers the TLD at such a low price during the ‘Consumer Advocate’ phase puts companies at significant risk from cybersquatters who may register their brand’s .Sucks domain to exploit their reputation. The danger is that other registries may now start to adopt the .Sucks approach in charging premium fees to registered known trademarks and brands. NetNames is committed to ensuring its customers are not cheated by the new domain name programme and we look forward to a response from the European Competition Commission.”