Yesterday, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV voiced serious concern in a letter to ICANN regarding the lack of “public interest” in the .SUCKS new gTLD string. At its creation, the new gTLD Program was designed to foster innovation and new opportunities for positive growth. As with any business venture, some are exploiting the process for maximum profit and with little regard for the public interest. Back in December, 2013, it was reported that the Vox Populi Registry was soliciting “defensive registrations” for .SUCKS before delegation of the TLD. Their stated plan is to “secure” a domain at $2,500 a piece during pre-launch, with a post-launch price point of $25,000. Such “little more than a predatory shakedown scheme.” Vox Populi is competing against Donuts and Top Level Spectrum for the right to run the registry, so it will be sometime before we know who will ultimately run the registry.
For the multi-stakeholder process to work, and the new gTLD program to thrive, we need to pay close attention to Applicants and the effect their polices will have on the public and the domain industry at large. Persuasive arguments can be made in favor of free speech and allowing the gTLD to proceed to delegation, however it is just as important for the domain industry to vigilantly watch how Applicants intend to manage these valuable properties. Promoting free speech, and increasing choice and competition is good, hijacking trademark owners and individuals is bad (or you could say it “sucks”). Read Senator John D. Rockefeller’s March 12, 2014 letter to ICANN on the lack of public interest in approving the .SUCKS gTLD – it will be a worthwhile 2 minutes.