Newsflash: Thousands of Microsites Registered Under .SUCKS

Five years ago, we advised our clients to resist registering in the .SUCKS registry because of its exorbitant pricing. Soon after, the operators of the .SUCKS registry, Vox Populi, terminated our accreditation. Now the registry is back, attempting to lure brand owners into buying .SUCKS domains once again by providing the platform for a questionable new business model by an anonymous registrant.

This mystery registrant, sometimes using Canadian registrar Rebel.com, started registering the brands of thousands of IP owners in the summer. These .SUCKS domains point to a templated page, featuring content scraped from Wikipedia or other social media platforms, which is critical of the brand. It is designed to look like a genuine consumer complaint site, but we believe it is a trap designed to encourage you to buy a .SUCKS domain, which you don’t need.

Some of the pages were formerly monetised, with adverts that clicked through to aftermarket companies, including Sedo and Uniregistry (owned by Go Daddy), offering the domains for re-sale. These adverts have now disappeared, but the domains are still listed for sale on aftermarket sites, and the micro-sites remain.

To see if your brand has been registered, visit the .SUCKS WHOIS here.

What should you do if your brand name has been registered?

High on the list should be doing nothing. Let the domain lapse, but now and again check your monitoring to see if the content has changed.

If you seek to tackle the registration as abusive behaviour and file a UDRP, you may be met by a Free Speech defence. Czech Arbitration Court filed two recent cases against registrant Honey Salt Ltd (which may be the mystery party behind all the registrations). The Mirapex.SUCKS case was denied. However, the other, Bioderma.SUCKS, succeeded and the domain was transferred. The three-person panel which featured our own Andrew Lothian, found that if non-commercial criticism is generated from randomly collected third parties and is not the registrant’s own genuine gripe, then the registrant cannot avail itself of the free speech angle. There are two more active cases before WIPO at the moment.

If you decide to buy the domain, not only will you be giving money to this anonymous registrant and the registry, but you may be encouraging the registry to engage in similar business models in the future with additional variations of your marks.

Contact your Client Manager, and we will be happy to discuss the right approach for you, including your prospects of success in a UDRP.

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