(Bloomberg) – Apple Inc., Citigroup Inc. and the San Francisco 49ers are among companies rushing to protect their brands from critics and pranksters by buying up new Internet addresses that end in “.sucks.”
Through the end of the month, the new domain suffix is being made available by Vox Populi Registry Ltd. only to trademark holders, for about $2,500 a pop, as part of a wider expansion of Web names beyond the familiar “.com.” But starting June 1, Vox Populi will drop the price to $249 and let anybody attach the available word of their choice.
That’s left companies racing to buy up the new names — which also include those ending in “.xxx” and “.wtf” — to keep control of their reputations. Law firms and trademark associations active in Internet registry policy have called Vox Populi’s domain-name sale “illicit” and “predatory.”
At a U.S. congressional hearing Wednesday, lawmakers criticized Vox Populi. Trademark owners are “being shaken down,” said the Judiciary Committee chairman, Representative Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican.