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.

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Companies: jack daniel's

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Comments on “Sucks Sites May Be Legal… But What About Loves Sites?”

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22 Comments
some old guy (user link) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

mike42 (profile) says:

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!

Allen (profile) says:

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.

Dave Child (user link) says:

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 …

Cybertelecom (user link) says:

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”

JD is messed up in other ways... says:

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??

John (profile) says:

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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