ICANN Asks U.S., Canada to Probe .sucks Domain Pricing

WASHINGTON — ICANN on Thursday asked the U.S. and Canadian governments to determine whether the company that manages .sucks is violating any laws by inflating the prices that brand owners pay for their own .sucks sites.

In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission and Canada's Office of Consumer Affairs, ICANN counsel John Jeffrey said that the organization "may seek remedies against Vox Populi if the registry's actions are determined to be illegal" by authorities, including an attempt to break its own agreement with Vox Populi because it could be in breach of contract.

ICANN’s own Intellectual Property Constituency, Jeffrey said, already has described Vox Populi’s business practices as “illicit,” as well as “predatory, exploitative and coercive.”

But ICANN's ability to act against Vox Populi is limited, Jeffrey noted, because ICANN is not a regulatory agency and its agreement with the registry does not address its pricing or business model.

Vox Populi is charging $2,499 for brands to register their names under ICANN’s early-registration “sunset” period for .sucks, discouraging them from using a process that was designed to allow brand an easy process to get trademark-protected names registered. .sucks names reportedly will be available later to the general public later for $249.

Jeffrey noted that .sucks is one of 583 new top-level domains added to the Internet as of this week. Included in the number are adult entertainment-defined TLDs like .adult and .porn, operated by .xxx owner ICM Registry, which also plans on rolling out .sex in the fall.

View ICANN letter