Owners of well-known trademarks and brand names are trying to get the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to block the launch of the new .SUCKS domain name.
The .SUCKS domain is scheduled to join more than 1000 other new generic top-level domains, or gTLDs, including .GURU, .WINE, .LOVE, .ADULT and .PORN.
Most gTLDs were purchased from ICANN for about $200,000 each. Some popular ones were auctioned off for millions of dollars. For example, Google paid $25 million for .APP.
Companies that own trademarked names will have the first opportunity to buy .SUCKS domains including those names until May 29. After that, the domains will be available for purchase by the general public.
Domain names in the .COM and .NET gTLDs that have not previously been sold are typically available for a modest amount of money – around $10 per year from some providers.
However, Vox Populi, the company that owns the .SUCKS top-level domain, is initially pricing domain names at $2,500. The price is expected to fall to $10 later.
“Vox Populi” is Latin for “voice of the people.” The company website includes clips of speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. and even an endorsement from consumer advocate Ralph Nader.
According to the website,
By building an easy-to-locate, “central town square” available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, dotSucks is designed to help consumers find their voices and allow companies to find the value in criticism. Each dotSucks domain has the potential to become an essential part of every organization’s customer relationship management program.
However, as reported by Minnesota Public Radio, others do not see the .SUCKS domain as providing a public service.
Nicholas Ahrens, vice president for privacy and cybersecurity at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, called the .SUCKS domain a “brand shakedown and not in line with the goal of free speech about a particular brand.”
ICANN’s IP Constituency — a group that represents intellectual property owners — contends that Vox Populi is punishing trademark owners by “subsidizing” sales of .SUCKS domains for complaint sites when brands “fail to cooperate” in the “shakedown scheme.”
In addition to buying the .SUCKS domain for “customer relationship management,” a company might also want to buy it to make it unavailable to others — including competitors.