Dot Sucks: Celebs snapping up mocking web addressesSave
By John Weekes
Some celebrities and businesses are scrambling to buy a controversial new domain name that actually sucks.
The new ".sucks" domain name will be available for the public to buy from June 1.
Overseas, celebrities have bought domains ending in .sucks, to stop critics or enemies seizing the addresses.
Some brands were reportedly coerced into paying for the new names too.
New Zealand trademark agent Murray Stott said trademark law here protected existing brands from offensive or deceptive attempts to appropriate company names.
Mr Stott said .sucks seemed "frivolous" and potentially slanderous.
He said despite reports of pop stars buying ".sucks" to forestall anyone who might want to appropriate or ridicule them, the law also protected celebrities.
"If for example someone wanted 'katemoss.sucks', she would have a path open to her to take [legal] action."
He said people or companies mocked by ".sucks" domains could probably hire intellectual property lawyers to take action under the Fair Trading Act.
".sucks is ridiculous in my opinion," Mr Stott said.
Three of New Zealand's biggest companies - Spark, Fletcher Building and SkyCity - were asked if they'd buy the domain names but didn't confirm or deny whether they planned to.
Taylor Swift and Kevin Spacey have bought the domain names, as have several overseas companies.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) launched the Dot Sucks programme. Liana Teo, ICANN Asia-Pacific spokeswoman, said Dot Sucks had to go through several stages before becoming generally available.
From March 30, as with all other generic top-level domains, Dot Sucks went through a "sunrise period".
Ms Teo said this stage gave trademark holders an advance opportunity to register domain names corresponding to their trademarks.
But after that, the domain names became available to anyone.
The Vancouver Sun said Yahoo, Apple, other major brands and many smaller ones had forked out big fees for a Dot Sucks domain name.
This week, The Wall Street Journal said brands were being coerced into thousands of dollars to buy domains ending in Dot Sucks to stop critics seizing the addresses as a platform.
Earlier this year, the Associated Press said an intellectual property advisory body representing major companies and industry groups asked ICANN in a letter to halt the rollout of Dot Sucks calling it a "shakedown scheme" and "predatory."