New domain names… SUCKS
Trade mark infringements can cause serious damage to a company’s reputation; this is particularly true when they are committed online. It is expected that the recent creation of a number of generic top-level domains, in particular “.SUCKS”, will exacerbate this problem.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has now released “.SUCKS” domain names, similar to “.com” or “.biz”, with domains available for purchase since 1 June 2015. It is likely that following this release we will see a rise in the creation of complaints sites relating to company trade marks e.g. “www.yourtrademark.SUCKS” by aggrieved customers or cyber squatters.
Companies who fall victims of such domain names will be able to take action relatively easily if their trade marks are registered, as unauthorised use would amount to trade mark infringement in most cases. Companies should bear in mind that infringement disputes can be expensive and time consuming; they often take place after the reputational damage has already been done.
Our recommendation for companies who anticipate uptake of the “.SUCKS” domain by third parties would be to consider purchasing relevant domains themselves in advance of such difficulties arising.
The prices of domain names vary, and “.SUCKS” in particular are reportedly expensive; however, purchasing a domain to protect a company’s trade mark is likely to be far lower than the cost of litigation which would be involved in trying to get a negative domain name removed at a later date.
Our Intellectual Property team has experience not only in registering trade marks and domain names but also in taking measures to enforce intellectual property rights.