As the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has released new generic top-level domains (gTLDS), clients concerned about protecting their trademarks and famous names need to review their positions with respect to “defensive” domain name registrations. The new gTLD receiving a surprising amount of attention is “.sucks”. Owners of registered trademarks who register prior to June 19, 2015 ( end of ‘Sunrise Period) with the Trademark Clearing House of ICANN will have the first opportunity to purchase the “.sucks” gTLD domain names. Those trademark owners who do not register or are not registered may still have an opportunity to acquire this gTLD . Unfortunately they may also face having to buy the “.sucks” gTLD from cybersquatters or those who seek to criticize the business or activities of the trademark owner.
The Trademark Clearing House fee to acquire the “.sucks” domain name during the Sunrise Period is higher than after the window closes as no priority is guaranteed. So the rights holder must consider how far it needs to go in defensively protecting its reputation or famous marks. Is it important to stop all gTLD’s using your trademark or name? Do you want to have to manage a portfolio of non-productive domain names? While critics of a company or individual might use the new “.sucks” gTLD to launch a website that contains criticism, how much of a difference would such a website make to the business or career of the target? Couldn’t the same critics more easily use social media such as TWITTER or FACEBOOK to communicate the same criticism and possibly with greater impact and less effort? A rights holder must also consider how difficult it will be under the current law to be able to stop such websites based on trademark infringement as such websites have been found not to violate owners’ trademark rights. Although the content of the site may be the basis for other legal claims.
Nevertheless, there are certain businesses and personalities for whom the existence of a critical or seemingly defamatory web presence cannot be tolerated. In such instances, obtaining the “.sucks” gTLD as well as “.XXX, .porn, and .adult” gTLD’s makes sense and provides a comfort level knowing that someone cannot post on these websites or hold up the rightful name owner for large sums of money to acquire these gTLD’s.
Please contact your principal attorney at SAM or SAM’s Intellectual Property Group to assist you in obtaining any of the new gTLD’s during the sunrise period or thereafter.
Kevin DeBre-Kdebre@stubbsalderton.com or (818) -444-4521