The release of the .SUCK domain extension has set tidal waves of apprehension across the web. In light of ICANN’s new controversial gTLD program, a common question brand managers, CMO’s and Intellectual Property consultants are asking is…. Does your brand .SUCK? Well established global brands have been eagerly purchasing the new gTLD in the hopes of warding off any haters, domain-squatters or cybercriminals with nasty intent. The domain name extension still remains in the sunrise registration period and will not be available for purchase by the general public for some months.

Over the past few months dotNice have been following the controversy. Just this week Apple purchased , following a long line of brands who have begun defensive registrations of domain names to protect their brand identity and reputation. Other international brands include Citigroup, Monsanto, Facebook, Microsoft and Hersheys to name a few. Celebrities are also hopping on the brand protection band wagon in an effort to safeguard their brand image including Kevin Spacey and the queen of brand management – Taylor Swift.

The real bitterness of the controversy stems from the pricing of the suffix in it’s Sunrise period. The Sunrise period is essentially a grace period where Trademark owners get priority access to a newly released domain name before the suffix is available for purchase by the public. As this point in time, we are three weeks into the a 60 day sunrise period, where only brands whose trademarks are registered in the Trademark ClearingHouse are exclusively able to register this particular domain extension. After this 60 day trial period, the domain extension will be available to anyone and for a considerably lower cost. This is the key issue at stake. Global brands sense they are being backed into a corner and threatened with a ‘pay now or pay further down the line in brand equity’ form of intimation.

Vox Populi Registry were granted the administrative rights over .SUCKS and have been overtly criticised over the pricing of this particular domain extension. It has been argued that the hefty fee of $ 2,499 per year to maintain the domain extension is close to extortion. Brands will have to pay this annually to retain the rights for their respective domain names.

In light of the chaos and uproar that has emerged, ICANN appears to be looking for a way to get out of the mess it helped create. Over the past few weeks they have appealed to the Federal Trade Commission and Canada’s Office of Consumer Affairs to distinguish the legality of the whole affair. In the meantime, many brands are holding their breath.

dotNice – Experts in digital brand protection.
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