Sen. Jay Rockefeller slams ‘.sucks’ for websites, calls it a ‘predatory shakedown scheme’

Late last year,  new gTLD applicants for .sucks opened up Priority Registrations for .sucks domain names for $250 per domain and Trademark Priority Registrations of $2,500 per domain. The registry plans on charging $25,000 PER domain for Sunrise Registrations.

Sunrise is reserved for registered trademarks which are registered with the Trademark Clearing House (TMCH).

The registry is offering a $250 priority registration “Reserve the name you want now, first-come, first-serve. Your registration will take place before General Availability.” or a Trademark Priority Registration for $2,500 per domain.  “If a trademark holder waits until Sunrise to apply the fee is going to be $25,000 per domain.”

In a developing case, Sen. Jay Rockefeller says the Internet domain name “.sucks,” well, sucks.

In a sharply worded letter , the chairman of the Senate Commerce committee told the group that oversees the domain name system it should not approve the ending .sucks for use in websites.

Rockefeller noted that three companies have applied to be the operator of .sucks — and called it “little more than a predatory shakedown scheme.”

Such a suffix, he said, is designed to “force large corporations, small businesses, non-profits, and even individuals, to pay ongoing fees to prevent seeing the phrase ‘sucks’ appended to their names on the Internet.”

One of the companies that applied for the ending, Vox Populi Registry, said late last year it plans to charge as much as $25,000 for early brand registrations, a hefty price tag for companies that want to keep their names off any potentially damaging .sucks websites.

Vox Populi CEO John Berard defended the pricing, saying companies should want to buy websites ending in .sucks to provide consumers a place to air their opinions.

“I hope it will be seen as a way to bring activity currently happening in the dark corners of the Internet into the light,” he said. “It’s pricey if you see it as just a domain name, but if you view it as a part of a greater campaign to drive consumer loyalty, it becomes mere pennies.”

Rockefeller, whose committee held a hearing about the domain name expansion, said approving .sucks would undermine the credibility of ICANN.

The group, which operates under a Commerce Department contract, is moving forward with the expansion program despite persistent skepticism from industry groups, which fear a proliferation of new endings could force them to spend a lot of money protectively buying up websites that include their brand names. ICANN did not immediately return a request for comment.

“We think .sucks threatens to be no more than an invitation for defensive registration with little positive value in the marketplace,” said Dan Jaffe, president of the Association of National Advertisers.

Governments around the world issued some joint recommendations for .sucks last year, asking potential operators of the ending to develop plans to prevent cyberbullying. The government of Australia has also said the suffix “has an overtly negative or critical connotation.”

Donuts Inc., which also applied for the .sucks suffix, said ICANN has already built protections for brands into their program, and added that “responsible registries like Donuts have gone beyond even those protections to provide new tools for trademark holders to protect their marks.” The third applicant for .sucks, Top Level Spectrum, did not return a request for comment.

Other new endings, like .sexy and .luxury, began rolling out earlier this year. Because the .sucks name has multiple applicants, it is not expected to launch before the fall Read more from Politico

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