ICANN Asks U.S., Canadian Governments If .sucks Is Breaking Laws
Vox Populi CEO, whose company is operating the domain, says company hasn't broken any laws or violated ICANN rules.
ICANN, the organization that approved the .sucks domain, is asking the U.S. and Canadian governments if the company operating the domain is breaking any laws with the controversial pricing and registration structure it’s set up for trademark holders.
According to an ICANN blog post this week, the organization has sent letters to both the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Canada’s Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA), inviting them to review how Vox Populi is running the .sucks domain. The letters were sent after ICANN received complaints from its own advisory groups, the Intellectual Property Constituency — letters that called .sucks a “predatory scheme” with pricing that’s “over 250 times more than what [Vox Populi] will charge most ordinary consumers.” From ICANN’s blog post:
Due to the serious nature of the allegations, we have sent letters [PDF, 742 KB] to both the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and, because Vox Populi is a Canadian enterprise, Canada’s Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) asking them to consider assessing and determining whether or not Vox Populi is violating any of the laws or regulations those agencies enforce. ICANN is currently evaluating remedies available to us under the registry agreement. As we noted in those letters, if Vox Populi is not complying with all applicable laws, it may also be in breach of its registry agreement. ICANN could then act consistently with its public interest goals and consumer and business protections to change these practices through our contractual relationship with the registry.
ICANN points out that it’s the government’s job to decide if Vox Populi is breaking any laws, and ICANN can only “enforce the terms and conditions of our contracts with registries.”
In a statement sent to Marketing Land via e-mail, John Berard, CEO of Vox Populi, says he believes the company hasn’t broken any laws or ICANN rules:
VoxPop has colored well within the lines both of ICANN’s rules and national laws so I was surprised by the request. I would first have expected a question from ICANN or an aggrieved party, but got none. Perhaps it is driven by genuine concerns or it may be a case of the squeaky wheel.
Either way, we see real value in bringing these names to life online. There is much to be learned from criticism.
Vox Populi opened early registration for .sucks domains on March 30. Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are among the many major brands that have already registered company and product-related names at $2,500 per year, per domain.