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Do "brandsucks.com" Names Really Have a "Destructive Potential"?

Cedric Manara

"'Sucks.com is the rightmost anchor of nearly 20,000 domains registered today. Two thousand domains have 'stinks.com' on the right and about the same number of domains begin with the term 'boycott'," write the authors of the recently released paper The Power of Internet Gripe Sites.

According to their (interesting) study, 35% of the "brandsucks" domains are owned by the brand while 45% are available for registration. They thus advise brand owners "to take a serious look at the traffic that these names garner and the kind of unique marketing opportunity they can afford."

The paper summarizes several UDRP decisions over brandsucks.com names, to warn brand owners. I do not fully agree with their conclusions, as much of the decisions they refer to, date back to 2000 or 2001 (jurisprudence has evolved since then).

The first "brandsucks.com" names were registered last century. Some of them had a lot of publicity when they came into light. Aren't brand managers aware of this phenomenon? To me, they are, and deliberately chose not to register their own "branduscks.com", because they do not think it is as dangerous as the authors of this report sugget. If a company were to register all names that are potentially dangerous, it would be costly (think of ihatebrand, youdetestbrand, heabhorsbrand, sheloathesbrand, consumersarerepulsedbybrand...).

The authors give the example of a brand which set up a website at "itsownbrandsucks.com" where it placed a "Guest Satisfaction Survey" (I will not mention this brand, I am not sure it would be happy with such publicity!). I wonder what how much traffic this website really gets. And a quick look on the Wayback Machine shows that this name had been previously used for at least two years to convey the traffic to the brand.com website…

By Cedric Manara, Law Professor. More blog posts from Cedric Manara can also be read here.

Related topics: Domain Names, Law

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Comments

"Sucks" domains Daniel R. Tobias  –  Sep 02, 2008 3:19 PM PST

Though if your intent is to create a noncommercial informational site, a .org or .info domain would make more sense than .com anyway.

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