.sucks dispute: IPC backs FTC’s policy proposals for ICANN


.sucks dispute: IPC backs FTC’s policy proposals for ICANN

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The Intellectual Property Constituency (IPC) has agreed with the US Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) suggestions to improve ICANN’s policies on new generic top-level domains (gTLDs).

Gregory Shatan, president of the IPC and partner at law firm Abelman Frayne & Schwab, told TBO that the “FTC has put ICANN on notice that brand owners and consumers need to be better protected in any future rounds [of gTLD rollouts]”.

He added: “The FTC chewed ICANN out on several shortcomings of the new gTLD programme, where consumers may not be adequately protected.”

Last week, the FTC responded to ICANN’s request to investigate the legality of the pricing structure of the .sucks domain by making suggestions about how to improve its gTLD policies.

Vox Populi, the registry managing .sucks, is offering a wholesale price of $1,999 but is suggesting that trademark owners are charged $2,499.

Referencing the dispute surrounding the price of .sucks domains, Shatan said: “The FTC clearly recognises that .sucks is a symptom of a bigger problem—the way the new gTLD programme is being run by ICANN.”

The FTC did not confirm whether it is conducting an investigation, saying that it cannot comment on the existence of any “pending investigations”.

The .sucks price has come under criticism from some quarters, including Shatan, who has described it as a “shakedown scheme”.

Brand protection company MarkMonitor has refused to profit from the name.

Shatan said the number of criticisms from the FTC of the way ICANN has handled the gTLD programme is in line with suggestions that the IPC has previously asserted.

He said that the FTC’s doubt about ICANN’s rights protection mechanisms’ ability to protect brand owners was “music to my ears”, and that screening procedures for gTLD applicants “matches up with the IPC’s longstanding concerns”.

“These are strong words and ICANN has no choice—it must heed them. The FTC has put ICANN on notice that brand owners and consumers need to be better protected in any future rounds,” he concluded.

John Jeffrey, ICANN’s general counsel and secretary, said ICANN implements policies developed by the entire multistakeholder community and not just those of “one governmental agency or any other single stakeholder”.

He added that ICANN is currently implementing improvements to the Whois system as well as a “variety of technical enhancements”.

.sucks; US Federal Trade Commission; Intellectual Property Constituency; IPC; Gregory Shatan; ICANN; Vox Populi; gTLDs; domain names

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