- Posted by Holmes Weinberg, PC
- On April 9, 2015
Not too long ago, the folks in charge of internet domain names opened the door for a whole batch of new gTLDs – the letters that come after the dot. The newest entry causing heads to spin in the branding world is the gTLD “dot-sucks” (.sucks). The registry behind this, Vox Populi Registry, is calculating that brands are willing to pay a fee to register their brand names with it to prevent others from grabbing their names and attaching a .sucks. The strategy includes charging a “basic” fee of $2499 to register each brand with the registry. A number of brands have taken the bait. Some of these can be seen at https://www.nic.sucks/media.
Is it worth paying what some are calling extortion? That all depends on your perspective. Years ago, when some people unhappy with a brand launched complaint websites with domain names like www.[brand]sucks.com, the majority of courts and arbitrators decided that as long as the website was a legitimate complaint site about the brand, this use was a fair use and not a trademark violation. That being said, aside from the short term notoriety some of these cases enjoyed in the media, nothing really came of it – merely having a website doesn’t mean people will go there. And they didn’t.
The same may be said of.sucks. While branders and marketers likely would not want to see their brands attached to this four letter dot-word, there is a strong probability that unless it is used for a legitimate gripe site, it won’t withstand challenge in the courts and few people likely will visit it. Of course, social media (which was not around in the early days of these disputes) might be used to get more people to visit the site (I can see the tweets now — “if u think [brand] sucks visit #[brand].sucks”), but the numbers likely will still be minimal. On the other hand, if one is particularly concerned about one’s brand image, it’s cheaper to register with this registry than to litigate the matter (although, I can tell you from experience that most internet wise guys fold after a complaint is filed, which is cheaper than the registration price).
If you’re interested in registering your brands, the “sunset” period for getting advance registration is May 29th.
More interesting to me is the availability of picking up generic, but possibly more valuable .sucks domain names like life.sucks and divorce.sucks (these particular names are the examples provided by the registry on its website). These of course carry a premium price. But just think of the possibilities…..