Just think of the possibilities—and perils, at least for companies that find themselves on the receiving end of a customer with a complaint or two. The problem? It’s the latest domain name to roll out as part of the grand expansion of the Internet: .sucks. It’s no April Fools’ Day joke, and for many companies, the domain truly sucks.
Brand owners and their lawyers have long complained that the expansion of generic top-level domain names (gTLDs), managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), has produced huge headaches, created more work and added to their budget woes. But the .sucks domain takes the frustration to a whole new level.
“It’s making companies very uneasy,” said Joanne Ludovici, a partner at McDermott, Will & Emery who specializes in trademark law. “I’m seeing more than the typical amount of corporate agita.”
The stress and anxiety comes not so much from concern that a company name or mark could be besmirched by a website called yourcompanyname.sucks. It’s caused more by the new domain’s pricing structure, which companies and lawyers consider exploitive and predatory for companies rushing in to pre-empt would-be disgruntled .sucks domain buyers.
Even the intellectual property advisory group charged with advising ICANN on policy issues relating to the management of the domain name system is now urging the international organization to halt sales of the .sucks domain. In a letter the Intellectual Property Constituency (IPC) sent to ICANN last week, the advisory group warned that the company selling the domain name, Vox Populi, is taking advantage of companies that own big brands by using a “predatory scheme” that’s “designed to exploit trademark owners.”