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Brand protection company NetNames has filed a complaint with the European Commission against the pricing structure of the .sucks domain name.
NetNames, which filed the complaint with the commission’s competition division, said that Vox Populi, the registry managing the .sucks domain, “created an uneven pricing structure” and charged brands a premium rate for registering a .sucks suffix.
During the sunrise period, which closed on June 19, Vox Populi set a wholesale price of $1,999 per domain but recommended that registrars charge trademark owners $2,499.
The domain has been on general sale since June 21. During this period, NetNames said, consumers will be charged only $199 for a .sucks domain.
Gary McIlraith, chief executive of NetNames, said in a statement: “This differentiation in price for the same domain, which is determined by whether you are a brand holder or an individual, has created an uneven playing field.
“Vox Populi’s predatory pricing model is a blatant attempt to extort revenues from brand owners.”
John Berard, chief executive of Vox Populi, said: “It is discouraging that, having heard definitively from the US and Canada [on the legality of the pricing structure], NetNames would feel compelled to engage in what I think lawyers call 'venue shopping'.
“Of course, we would be responsive to any communication from government.”
The complaint was filed on June 16 by NetNames counsel Flip Petillion.
Petillion, who is a partner at law firm Crowell & Moring in Brussels, wrote in the complaint: “Trademark owners need not register in every single new domain. However, in some they clearly have an interest in doing so as a defensive strategy. A registry like Vox Populi is very well aware of such a defensive strategy and clearly anticipated it by implementing the pricing mechanism.”
He added: “The high price may make it too difficult or impossible for trademark holders to register their brand and may allow cybersquatters to register for a much lower price at general availability.”
NetNames, Vox Populi, domain names, .sucks, John Berard, European Commission