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Oprah, Kevin Spacey, Apple grabbing .sucks Internet names

Aaron Pressman

Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Spacey and Taylor Swift are trying to outsmart the haters. Representatives for the celebrities, along with many well-known companies, are grabbing up new Internet website names ending in ".sucks" at a cost of more than $2,000 a pop.

The moves, though spendy, prevent anyone else from controlling the website names when public registration for .sucks names opens in June.

Consumer advocates supported the new domain name space as an opportunity for people to voice their complaints about businesses and, it is hoped, get quicker responses.

But if you want to complain about your Apple TV, Microsoft One Drive or Timex watch, you won't be able to do it at appletv.sucks, onedrive.sucks or timex.sucks. Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT) and Timex have already taken those monikers during the ongoing 60-day early registration period reserved for trademark holders and celebrities. Yahoo (YHOO), the parent of Yahoo Finance, has also registered some .sucks names.

The Vox Populi Registry, which won the right to oversee the .sucks domain, is disclosing the preregistrations as they come in, says CEO John Berard. The web site Domain Incite reported some of the early .sucks registrations on April 3.

The new .sucks Internet address is one of the most controversial among hundreds of new suffixes approved by the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, which governs the naming system. ICANN established a procedure for adding new suffixes in 2011 and has been slowly working its way through almost 2,000 initial applications. So far, it has approved more than 500, with new additions released daily.

Taylor Swift, Microsoft and others already dealt with another controversial new suffix, .porn, and preregistered their names earlier this year. Celebrities have more experience with the problems that may arise, having dealt with a barrage of new web site names when the .xxx suffix opened for business four years ago.

The new suffixes are intended to unleash a barrage of creative energy, and perhaps a few marketing dollars, by breaking free of the crowded .com space. Over 100 million names have already been taken in .com, including almost every word in the dictionary. Most of the new additions are uncontroversial and inoffensive, such as .cafe, .gold and .tennis.





But companies and their allies in Congress have been protesting the .sucks domains, so far without success.

Vox Populi charges Internet registrars a wholesale price of $2,000 for .sucks names during the early preregistration period, with a recommended retail price of $2,500. Once general registration opens, the .sucks names will cost $250 for consumers. There's also a limited $10-a-year option if a consumer agrees to make the site part of Vox Populi's discussion network.

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