Following our previous articles concerning the new gTLD releases, it is clear that the Internet is changing. Hundreds of new domain name extensions, or generic top-level domains (gTLDs), are starting to appear online and it is important that brand owners are ready for these changes.
One of the more problematic new gTLDs is ‘.sucks’. Whilst in general terms, dealing with domains that include the term sucks (or other pejorative terms) is not new (Airfrance won a sucks case back in 2005 http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/06/08/air_france_wins_sucks_domain_name/), the launch of the new gTLD .sucks finds many brand owners asking how best to protect themselves.
It is reported that Microsoft, Google and Apple have already secured .sucks sites (i.e. microsoft.sucks) in a bid to protect their reputations. Such defensive registrations are, however, extremely expensive. In fact, Vox Populi, the organisation responsible for the launch of the .sucks gTLD has come under extreme criticism for its pricing strategy. Brand owners looking to take advantage of the Trade Mark Clearing House (a global centralised database of validated trade marks operated by Deloitte and IBM which helps secure and defend trade marks across every single new domain name being launched) are being charged over $2,000 a year. In response, and following widespread industry pressure, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has, this month, asked the US and Canadian authorities to investigate.
Defensive domain name registrations are a useful tool in a brand owner’s armoury. For this particular gTLD, however, whilst defensive registrations are possible, the now generally accepted view is that brand owners should wait to see if ICANN intervenes in the current pricing structures.