Thursday, April 9, 2015

Trademark owners will be thrilled to know that for a short time (until May 29) they have a priority right to register their brands with the generic top-level domain (gTLD) “.sucks.”

Top level domains are the suffixes added to a domain name/address.  Generic gTLDs  were intended to be available for general registration by any person or organization within a particular group (“restricted”) and included the very well-known gTLDs “.com,” “.org,” “.net,” etc.  As the qualification restrictions were never enforced, these gTLDs have been accepted as unrestricted, and I believe are currently officially recognized as such.

So should you register your brands with the “.sucks” gTLD before someone else does?

Certainly a lot of companies will do so, and probably famous entertainers, politicians, and athletes.  Some of these brand buyers have suggested that they want to host their own site welcoming criticism of their products or services.  (News flash— “.sucks” doesn’t exactly engender a thoughtful or serious discussion.  Stick to a “critics’ corner” or “tell us what you think” page on Facebook.  “.sucks” just seems to be asking for the worst. ) Most “owner” registrants simply want to keep the offensive domain name out of the hands of others who might provide an easy forum for bad behavior.  

The price is high—at least for a domain name registration—and will warrant some cost-benefit analysis for most average businesses and individuals.  “.sucks” is pretty much a dead giveaway that the site is not complimentary, and it should not confuse anyone into thinking that the brand owner is trashing itself, or its business or products.  At the same time, if anyone truly wants to debase, degrade, defame, embarrass or humiliate me, or post unauthorized photographs, or rant about what a terrible person I am, they can still register (or .net, .org, or .info), or blast me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any of the other social media sites—probably at a much lower cost.

Many will register their brands because they can.  Not surprisingly, early registrations came in for Yahoo, several of the major Apple marks, a handful of banks and financial institutions…and Kevin Spacey.  (Who would say bad things about Kevin Spacey?)  I would have expected to see a boatload of politicians, particularly those running for president, but maybe they haven’t yet done enough fundraising.

The timing and pricing of the options for “.sucks” are complicated, but Sheldon Klein, one of our Washington, D.C., partners, has done all the hard work and explained it in this IP Alert published March 20.

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