On Feb. 2, 2022, the Federal Circuit decided In re Vox Populi Registry Ltd., an appeal from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s (Board) affirmance of the refusal to register a stylized version of the term .SUCKS. Vox Populi operates the registry for the .SUCKS generic top-level domain, offering domain names ending in “dot sucks” particularly suited to operation of gripe sites, and it applied to register the term .SUCKS both in standard characters and in a pixelated, stylized version for “domain registry operator services related to the gTLD in the mark.” The examining attorney and the Board refused registration of both versions for failure to function as a mark.
The Federal Circuit found that substantial evidence supported the Board’s finding that consumers will perceive .SUCKS only as a non-source identifying part of a domain name and not as a service mark. Such evidence included examples from Vox Populi’s website, get.sucks, using .SUCKS to identify a product (domain names ending in .SUCKS) rather than a provider of services. Vox Populi’s evidence of advertising and promotional efforts and declarations from domain name registrar customers who testified that they perceive .SUCKS as a service mark were insufficient to overcome this evidence. Continue Reading