Some Things Just Plain .suck
While the brand industry and many others have thus far stalled the new gTLD onslaught by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), at least one applicant has given brand owners a clear message: Pay up or be put up!
According to Kevin Murphy of Domain Incite, Vox Populi Registry, the applicant for the new .sucks gTLD, announced that it will charge $25,000 to register on the .sucks gTLD when it becomes available. Mr. Murphy’s article is a must read.
Vox Populi is owned by Canada based Momentous Corporation. Its website opens with the headline, “It’s the Internet, Stupid”, explaining that the Internet is “…our nucleus. Everything we do, every idea, and every one of our businesses are locked within the Internet’s orbit. It’s the foundation of our knowledge, skill and expertise. And we never stray from it.” Clearly, the folks at Momentous aren’t stupid. But they appear to know who is.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or even the scientists who invented the Internet) so see what is happening.
Brands will face a Hobson’s Choice of either protecting their brands by registering or running the risk that someone who is not particularly enamored with a brand will take the space and attack.
Then again, given the high cost Vox Populi plans to extract from wannabe registrants, who other than a paranoid brand would want to spend that much money? Perhaps a competitor? Not likely. A consumer? Only people with money to burn could afford it. So is there really a market for gTLDs with a $25,000 price tag? After all, there are lots of other ways to embarrass a brand on social media and other websites. The Internet is loaded with sites that attack brands. So will .sucks really change the game for brands? Should they just ignore it? Will brands want to take that chance?
Presumably, Vox Populi is banking on brand paranoia. In fact, Vox Populi is offering “Priority Registrations” for the folks out there who want to be sure no one else steps on their trademark turf when, and if, .sucks sees the light of day (there are two other companies that have also applied for .sucks).
But for the sake of argument, let’s assume you’re an executive who wants to protect your company’s brands and the reputation and goodwill they represent. If so, you need to ask several questions. How confident am I in the protections ICANN and .sucks have put in place to protect my brands? Good luck with that. How many brands do I want to protect? Most major brand owners have dozens of brands. Think about the many variations, e.g., spelling, of the brand names that might be registered. Time to get a dictionary and Thesaurus. Do I need to protect every one of them?
Now add the brands your company owns and the variations you fear and multiply that by $25,000. The result is indeed a very lucrative market for Vox Populi. So much for your bonus.
And there is another question brand owners need to ask. Who else, in addition to .sucks, will be getting a gTLD that raises similar concerns and requires multiple registrations to protect brands? After all, there are hundreds of other new gTLDs waiting in the ICANN bucket for a license to operate.
So add it all up. Serious money is at risk. Very serious money.
Sure there’s the Trademark Clearinghouse to help. And some other protections may be in place. But in the end, they’re all paper tigers. ICANN has yet to show true appreciation of the equity risks for brands that will result from its misguided impression that the world needs more gTLDs. It simply does not. Search engine and related technology (advancing every day) will eventually make gTLDs largely irrelevant. So why create nearly 2,000 new gTLDs?
I think the plans Vox Populi has in store for brands pretty much answers that question.