You Too Can Suck

Sometimes litigation reminds us just how weird some business models can be. If you’re cynical like me, you might even call them extortion models.

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently ruled that a company called Vox Populi Registry Ltd. can’t trademark “.sucks.”

Before I go any further, let’s get this out of all our systems — yes, it sucks for them.

I hope you feel better.

What I found more interesting was the possibly self-destructive service Vox Populi was offering: “.sucks” domain registration. The company is not pitching this service only to harsh critics. It’s also — and maybe primarily — pitching to anyone who doesn’t want to be seen as sucking.

Check out get.sucks.

Here, under the heading “Apple.Sucks” we’re told that “Apple knows that criticism is inevitable, and that providing your users with a channel to vent is more productive than letting them take to Twitter. Hence, Apple.Sucks — which smartly redirects to their Product Feedback page.”

This, of course, is a terrible idea. Picture a consumer who is so angry with your product that they go to a “.sucks” page to vent. And then their venting gets hijacked by the company they hate. This is not likely to be a productive interaction.

Now see if you can spot the additional problem with apple.sucks. I’ll wait while you think about it….

That’s right — apple.sucks doesn’t seem to exist. You won’t be able to find it if you click on “show me” link beneath the apple.sucks paragraph.

So either Apple didn’t buy a dot-sucks domain or it did and realized it was a horrible idea and took it off the internet.

The site also claims that it’s a “genius move” for celebrities to pay Vox Populi for dot-sucks domain names — “they want to own them before anyone else can.” Taylor Swift, allegedly, owns one and, no, you can’t find taylorswift.sucks on the internet.

So marketing service or protection racket? You got a nice reputation there — I’d hate to see to see anything happen to it ….

If nothing else, this is a fascinating new business model: sell something your customers want no one else to see.

Now have some fun coming up with must-have top level domain names. I’m thinking “.isanidiot.”

Residence. Those of you who are fans of “original intent” are going to love a ruling from the West Virginia Supreme Court that says, “(w)hile we recognize that the word ‘reside’ does not necessarily have a precise definition, we find that the meaning and import of this word can be understood by examining the understanding of the citizens who ratified our Constitution.”

In 1872.

As far as I can tell, the reason for the Constitution’s requirement that the governor and some other top executives must “reside at the seat of government” was that the state’s books and records were there. This isn’t exactly the case in the modern world.

I’m guessing that whoever wrote that Constitution didn’t know how to use a computer.

You wouldn’t think anyone would care where the governor lived. You, of course, would be wrong because, well, politics. A state legislator sued the governor – one James Conley Justice II – to make him live in Charleston.

This makes no sense. If you hate someone enough to sue, why would you want them living near you?

The legislator, or his lawyers, claimed their reason was that the governor’s failure to live in Charleston “has negatively impacted the efficient operations of state government.”

I have my doubts about that, but the governor’s, or his lawyers’, response was equally weird: the term “reside” is ambiguous.

I love this dispute and its characters so much that I could go on and on but you’d probably stop reading. So I’m going to point out just two things.

First, if you go to the governor’s official website, you’ll learn that “Gov. Justice is the largest farmer east of the Mississippi River.”

You’re not going to fat shame this guy.

The governor and his dog have also “bagged” 73 grouse — probably by scaring them to death.

Second, I have advice for the governor’s lawyers: you’re attacking the wrong definition. The real ambiguous term is “seat of government” where those important books and records live — i.e. in computers and the cloud.

This isn’t 1872.

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