Apple.sucks Oprah.sucks TaylorSwift.sucks Xbox.sucks.
Some of the most recognizable names in the business and celebrity worlds have gone on the defensive, snapping up Internet addresses that end in “.sucks” and more of the domains are being registered by the hour. Several NFL teams, Microsoft, Hertz, Home Depot, Air Products, eHarmony, Goodwill and Consumer Reports bought dotSucks website domain names — launched March 30 by Vox Populi Registry Ltd.
Visitors to the dotSucks website can punch in names to see if they’re still available.
BatonRouge.sucks appears available. LSU.sucks does, too, but it is not.
LSU Trademark Licensing has taken steps to protect the LSU brand in the dotSucks domain, said Brian Hommel, director of LSU Trademark Licensing.
Alabama.sucks and Georgia.sucks appear to be available, according to the website. However, domains that have been registered will still appear as available during the initial registration period.
Only trademark holders can pay $2,499 to buy their Web names … until June 1. That’s when anybody with $249 will be able to attach the name of their ex, boss or whatever else has offended them — Nick Saban beware — to .sucks. That’s assuming the name is still available. Or you can pay $199 a year to block someone from registering your name.
Brand protection is a key component of a trademark licensing program, LSU’s Hommel said. LSU takes proactive steps, including registering LSU trademarks with the Trademark Clearinghouse, to accomplish that.
LSU protects domains that are pertinent to its interests, LSU.gifts for example, and those that could be problematic in the hands of “nefarious actors,” such as LSU.fail.
Dan Rice, an assistant professor in LSU’s Marketing Department, said buying a site with a negative name gives companies more control of their brands.
A business can redirect traffic to a more positive site, such as its home page or an awards page, Rice said. Buying a negative domain name also means a company can keep that website from becoming the place where people go to complain.
ExxonMobil declined to comment on whether the company is paying to control any dotSucks domains.
Rice said the decision to buy a negative domain name depends on the size of the business.
“Any fairly well-known brand, $2,000 is not going to be a large part of their marketing budget,” Rice said.
It’s cheaper to pay for the site than to go to court, he said.
DotSucks says the domain name is designed “to help consumers find their voices” and for companies to find the value in criticism.
Others say the new domain is no different than cybersquatting — registering a well-known brand and then selling it — usually to the owner. It can cost more than $10,000 to dislodge a cybersquatter, according to Forbes.
The U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing Wednesday on the .sucks domain, hearing complaints. The witness list included Mei-lan Stark, immediate past president of the International Trademark Association, and Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global public policy.
Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr.