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‘Sucks’ online is a good thing: official

WIPO in Wonderland

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Every American and a great many Europeans will presume that if you say something "sucks" you mean it isn't any good. In fact, the slang use of it is in many dictionaries: "to be very bad or inferior". But you (and we) are all wrong when it comes to using the phrase online. And that's official.

Welcome to the world of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, better known as WIPO and recently accused of providing the "lowest common denominator of internationally agreed and accepted principles concerning the abuse of trademarks" by a US Appeal Court.

WIPO is one of four organisations which decide who is entitled to own particular domains. Its critics say that it has carefully and methodically misinterpreted the rules over domain disputes (called UDRP) in order to rule in favour of trademark holders, big business and famous people.

By deciding in favour of the person that take its case to WIPO, the organisation guarantees itself a healthy income and an ever increasing number of people that wish to complain to it.

It was perhaps only a matter of time then that WIPO found a way of justifying why a domain name of a company or person with "sucks" tacked on the end is part of a company's trademark and hence their property. And this is it, in all its full, mind-numbing state:

"This Panel, by a majority, is of the view that the addition of the word 'sucks' to a well-known trademark is not always likely to be taken as 'language clearly indicating that the domain name is not affiliated with the trademark owner'. Two examples of the use of the word 'sucks' which do not so indicate, even to English speakers, are:

(1) the use of the words 'sucks' purely descriptively, as in the advertising slogan "Nothing sucks like Electrolux" (If there were a website at <electroluxsucks.com>, it would be unlikely to be taken as unaffiliated with the company Electrolux); and

(2) the Web site of the band Primus, <primussucks.com>, so named after the album Suck on This (1990). (The website of the band's lead singer, Les Claypool, at <lesclaypool.com>, has a link to the <primussucks.com> website).

More importantly, it must be borne in mind that not all Internet users speak English as their mother tongue."

And that is it. Despite millions of people understanding what the term "sucks" means in slang, WIPO has found an advert for a vacuum cleaner, a rock album called Suck and a Frenchman who didn't know what the phrase meant.

Does it get any better than this? ®

Related Link

That WIPO logic in full (under section 6 - Discussion and Findings)

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