Domain name extensions have expanded far beyond .com, .net, .biz and .org. In the past few years, several new extensions have been created to increase competition and choice in the virtual space. New extensions include .clothing, .technology, .contractors, .photography, .company, .training, among hundreds of others. A much publicized new extension will be launched soon: .sucks.
The .sucks extension is supposedly being created to promote debate and provide “an easy-to-locate central town square available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year” for criticism. It is too soon to tell how the market will react. Maybe .sucks domain names will become a go-to-place to find out about bad experiences that consumers are having with a particular brand. Maybe no one will visit .sucks pages. The risk for harm to one’s brand, however, is troublesome. Disgruntled consumers, business partners or employees could get their hands on .sucks domains and use them to post complaints and undesired comments about a brand.
Because of free speech guarantees, it will be nearly impossible for a brand owner to retrieve a third party registration for a .sucks domain name that includes their brand. Brand owners should, therefore, consider registering domain names for their main brand(s) followed by .sucks. as a preventive and defensive measure. The domain registrar in charge of the .sucks registrations has given brand owners an opportunity to protect their rights before registration is open to the general public on May 28, 2015. During this pre-launch period, brand owners who own federal registrations for their trademarks and who register such marks with the Trademark Clearinghouse, a global repository for trademarks in the domain name space, may apply for .sucks domain names. As an alternative to registration of a .sucks domain name, brand owners may apply to “block” their mark from registration by third parties. The disadvantage of the block is that it is not available during the pre-launch phase. Pricing for .sucks domain names and blocks ranges from $10 to $2500. The cost of a .sucks domain name is highest during pre-launch.
We encourage brand owners to review the available options regarding registration of .sucks domain names. More information can be found on the registrar’s website at www.nic.sucks. Given the upcoming pre-launch deadline of May 28, 2015, time is of the essence.
Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP, one of the largest law firms in the Western U.S., provides comprehensive legal services to clients of all sizes. The firm maintains thriving practices in litigation, real estate, business transactions, intellectual property, regulatory affairs, gaming, banking, bankruptcy and energy and natural resources. For additional information, please visit www.LRRLaw.com.
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