Yourbrand.sucks – coming soon?
The domain name landscape is changing. Previously generic top level domain names (gTLD's) were limited to conventional suffixes such as ".co.uk" and ".com", but over the last couple of years over 500 new gTLD's have been introduced. For example, Apple and Netflix are in the process of registering ".apple" and ".netflix" respectively.
It remains to be seen whether any of these new gTLD's will be put into common application or if the majority of them have been registered purely as a protective measure. Given the sizeable application fee of $185k, it is perhaps unsurprising that the majority of new gTLD applicants are major global players.
However, all brand owners should be aware of a particularly controversial gTLD on the horizon - ".sucks". This gTLD has been registered by a Canadian organisation called Vox Populi. According to Vox Populi, ".sucks" is a way of enabling the people to "let their voice be heard" and have a constructive dialogue with brand owners. Not everyone sees it that way however, with Vox Populi and ICANN (the entity responsible for the Internet's domain name system) coming under heavy fire for the pricing mechanism behind ".sucks", which critics say takes advantage of brand owners.
Until 29 May 2015 it is possible for those who have registered their brands with ICANN's Trademark Clearinghouse to register "theirbrand.sucks" within an initial priority period - for a minimum fee of $2,499 per year. The initial registration fee will be higher if your chosen domain name happens to be included on Vox Populi's list of 'Premium' domain names, which has not yet been disclosed.
".sucks" then becomes generally available for registration by the public on 1 June 2015 on a first come, first served basis. The annual fee will be $249 or $10 (depending on how you register) - unless you wish to register a Premium domain name, in which case the annual fee will be at least $2,499. From 1 June it will also be possible to block non-Premium domain names for an annual fee of $199. Premium domain names cannot be blocked.
Controversy notwithstanding, the ever-astute Taylor Swift has already purchased her own ".sucks" domain name - as have other celebrities such as Kevin Spacey and Oprah Winfrey. Brand owners should carefully consider whether it would be worth doing likewise.
This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.