Sucks Sites May Be Legal... But What About Loves Sites?

from the i-loves-a-legal-battle dept

In the past, we've written numerous posts about the saga of so-called "sucks sites," which are websites on domain names that take a well-known brand and append the word "sucks" to the end (or something similarly denigrating) in an act of anger or protest. Many companies have tried to force such sites down using trademark law, but courts have pretty routinely held that sucks sites are perfectly legal.

But what about a "loves site"? What if someone loved your brand so much they set up a site with your brand and the word "love" before it? One of our readers alerts us to just such a scenario that happened a few months back, when Jack Daniel's threatened the owner of the website ILoveJackDaniels.com, suggesting that it was a trademark violation. The owner of the site gave in and handed over the domain name, but I wonder if such a claim would have stood up in court. It's difficult to see how the argument would be any different than with the "sucks sites" which are okay.

Perhaps, the only thing is that sucks sites may be protected because no one would confuse a sucks site with the real product site, because the sucks site is obviously trashing the product. With a "loves" site, you could argue that there might be a higher likelihood of confusion. Either way, how long will it be until we also have to explore this issue when it comes to "I-am-ambivalent-to- sites"? Well, okay, that one might not be any time soon.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    some old guy, Oct 23rd, 2008 @ 3:55pm

    idiots

    Accusing your biggest fans of violating the companies rights by singing songs of praise of them is seriously the stupidest fucking thing a company can do.

    I think a proper whiskey company should get a hold of that guy and offer to be the replacement for his passion.

    This is what happens when you put the lawyers in your charge of your company. They do stupid things.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2008 @ 4:21pm

    Borderline craziness.

    I am sure there are other people out there named "Jack Daniels".

    I even recall there was a politician from New Mexico bearing the name Jack Daniels a few years back.

    Geez.

     

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  3.  
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    Nobody, Oct 23rd, 2008 @ 4:45pm

    Re: Borderline craziness.

    Of course, it had to be Mexico. You racist.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2008 @ 4:47pm

    Brand Waterboarding is not torture.

    Okay, this is getting really bad.

    I haven't been to the bar in a while because I've been busy running my Myspace account, watching NBC Thursday Nights, and trying to get people to vote for me at HotOrNot.com (A friend said it's actually run by CBS as a contest to pickup some fresh faces on CSI. And if you don't feel like voting for me, well, fuck you.)

    The only mixed drink I've had in weeks is a few Joe Cockers and the only reason I had it was because I had to sit through a less sexy two-hour episode of Sex in the City in the theater is because I had time to kill while my car was getting serviced.

    So, like a pokerplayer with one chip who throws it into the pot without even looking at his cards, here's hoping I never have to drink another drop of Jack Daniels again and my car doesn't drive itself off a cliff after getting worked on.

     

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  5.  
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    mike42 (profile), Oct 23rd, 2008 @ 5:19pm

    It's simple, really

    After dealing with the Jack Daniels lawyers, there was no love anymore.
    I've actually been to the site. It was pretty cool, the guy had a bunch of web authoring reference cards (css, etc) that I printed out and would check out whenever I had a brain fart. I thought is was great free publicity for the Daniels brand. Now, I'll be sure never to touch the stuff. Way to go, lawyers!

     

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  6.  
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    Andy, Oct 23rd, 2008 @ 5:31pm

    How it goes for

    one of the sites that I frequent, nasioc.com, has permission from the company (subaru) to use their logo, so they pull down spy shots and stick to press embargoes, but they in no way limit any bitching about warranty, the looks of new cars, or anything similar. so it can be done if the company is open.

     

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  7.  
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    John Duncan Yoyo, Oct 23rd, 2008 @ 5:39pm

    Is Iusedtolovejackdaniels.com available?

    This is about the dumbest thing a company can do.

    They need to get the site owner to pay them a dollar for a license and give them a big pile of JD Swag if not a marketing contract.

     

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  8.  
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    Allen (profile), Oct 23rd, 2008 @ 8:33pm

    He was using the trade mark quite prominently in his theme.

    Now if he was using the site to review or otherwise comment on the product it should be the same as a [?]sucks site. But he wasnt.

    It's a little difficult to argue that a web development blog might somehow trick JD drinkers into buying a competing product or otherwise damage the brand.

    He may have won the argument to keep the domain but he probably would have had to lose the theme.

    Either way, I hope he cashed in.

     

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  9.  
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    David Canton, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 4:42am

    Perhaps you have inspired a whole new genre - meh sites like techdirt-meh.com

     

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  10.  
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    Christopher Mankey, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 5:42am

    Re: Re: Borderline craziness.

    Learn to read, clueless moron. It said "New Mexico."

     

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  11.  
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    Dave Child, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 6:47am

    Thanks :)

    Thanks techdirt, readers and commenters. Nice to see this still getting some attention. This also resulted in the creation of a new site (not by me) - http://ihatejackdaniels.com/
    He was using the trade mark quite prominently in his theme.
    Yes, my logo was a parody of the Jack Daniel's one - had "ILoveJackDaniels" in white text, curved the same way as the JD one. That was it though. They did say they thought the name would be "confusing".
    He may have won the argument
    Unfortunately, that's an argument that costs 6 figures just to start - hence why I cooperated them to try and get them to agree to permanent redirection. Didn't work.
    I hope he cashed in.
    Sadly, no. I've switched to Bulleit Bourbon - much nicer anyway - and hoping they decide to send me free stuff. Maybe buy me "ilovebulleit.com" too. Hope springs eternal ...

     

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  12.  
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    r. decline, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 7:08am

    they just wanted the url

    obviously the company just wanted the url for their own. the fact that these people cave and give it up is outrageous though.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Cybertelecom, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 7:10am

    Need Better Lawyers

    There was a famous - I think it was 2600 case where they registered "verizonsucks" right at about the time of the merger between NYNEX and Bell Atlantic which became Verizon. Verizon immediately sent a cease and desist letter. So the domain name "verizonsucksandneedsbetterlawyers" was registered. This got lots of publicity and Verizon got the point. So maybe the thing to do here is to register "ILovejackdanielsbuttheyneedbetterlawyers.com"

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    JD is messed up in other ways..., Oct 24th, 2008 @ 7:18am

    Did you know??

    That the county where Jack Daniels is produced is a DRY (read, no alcohol consumption or sales allowed) county. Think about this, the company either A) intentionally built the plant or B)didn't have enough influence to stop the county where they can't even SELL THEIR OWN PRODUCTS! And you expect them to think rationally about such important things as website domain names that might become viral enough to provide them FREE advertising??

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 7:22am

    i'm gonna call a modified rule 35 on this one

    35. If no "content" is found of it, it will be created

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 8:04am

    There are other situations..

    which could be lumped in as positive or negative. A couple of excellent (and currently popular) examples:
    http://www.dearadobe.com/
    http://pleasefixtheiphone.com/

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 8:35am

    Re: Thanks :)

    Switch to Maker's Mark. I've yet to see as much customer interaction with a whiskey or even alcohol product as I have with them and their Maker's Mark Ambassador program.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 8:39am

    Re: Did you know??

    you're allowed to drink it, but not sell. and JD can sell commemorative bottles of the whiskey to tourists, except on Sundays.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    John, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 1:03pm

    Just dumb

    A person likes a product so much that he spends his time to build and out up his own website praising the product, yet the company tells him to take it down? While that may be the letter of the law (or not), it's just plain dumb.

    This is a great way to turn your biggest fan into an enemy, or at least get him to use the competition's product... or create a site about how much he loves the competition.

    And, of course, the other issue is the cost of the court case: sure the guy may be within his rights, but how much would it actually cost to go before a judge and argue his point? I think corporate lawyers know how to out-spend the defendant long before anyone even talks to a judge.

    How far can these companies go in their effort to "protect their copyright"?
    What about idontcareforjackdaniels.com or ikindalikejackdaniels.com or ithinkjackdanielsisokay.com?

     

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  20.  
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    Brandon, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 3:22pm

     

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  21.  
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    Dave Child, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 5:23pm

    Re: Re: Thanks :)

    Same company :)

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Nobody, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 6:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Borderline craziness.

    I know it said New Mexico, but I was wondering why it has to be New Mexico. It could have been New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New England, New Amsterdam, New Guinea, New Zealand, or New France. But no, Racey McRacist had to use New Mexico.

     

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