Domain names in <.suck> : between attack to brand image and freedom of expression

Sources: Domain Incite, Free speech, or bad faith? UDRP panels split on domains, Oct. 22, 2020:

Free speech, or bad faith? UDRP panels split on domains, Case n° 103141, 2020-06-29 : https :// ?dispute_id=103141, Case n° 103142, 2020-07-01 : https :// ?dispute_id=103142DNS News No. 270, Oct. 2020

The top-level domain name extension <.sucks> was open for registration by ICANN in 2015. At the time, some brands were already concerned about the risk of cybersquatting on these extensions, and the possible damage to the brand image that this could generate. In fact, many domain names that use trademarks known and ending in <.sucks> were born. Very often, these domain names refer to pages where Internet users can complain about the brand in question, whether they are consumers or former employees.

During the past months, the phenomenon has intensified with a lot of reservation numbers, clearly done by the same registrar of the domain name in <.sucks>. Suddenly, new online pages have emerged, with the same structure and bad comments about renowned brands. A system of resale at prices between $199 and $599 is also in place.
The question of the dispute resolution about the <.suck> is complex, since the situation raises issues relating to freedom of expression.

Two recent cases with two opposite outcomes illustrate this complexity. The domain names <> and <> were both registered by the same registrar and are both the subject of UDRP complaints. In response to these two complaints, the defendant based his argument on freedom of expression. For <>, the complaint was unsuccessful, on the contrary, for <>, the name transfer was ordered.

In the case of <>, the expert had taken into consideration the fact that the registrar didn’t use the domain name for bad comments on the trademark in question but was simply a third party who registered the domain name seeking to resell it. The reseller was a company located in the Turks and Caicos Islands whose activity is the purchase and resale of names in <.sucks>. The latter had no way of verifying if the bad comments were authentic. Especially because those comments seemed to have been added only after the complaint was filed.

On the other hand, in the decision on <>, reserved by the same company, the transfer was refused. The expert gave special attention to the nature of the <.sucks> and to the freedom of expression, while underlining the insufficiency of the argumentation of the applicant.
One thing is sure: prevention is better than cure, therefore it would preferable to register a brand in the extension <.sucks>, on a purely defensive basis.