.xxx Domain a Triple Threat to US Businesses, Groups

By Erin Harrison August 16, 2011

The upcoming .xxx domain appears to be a triple-threat for businesses, religious groups and the porn industry alike.

With the impending triple-x domain set to launch in December, businesses are complaining they are being forced to buy domain names they don’t want as a preemptive strike to avoid future legal battles.

Reuters said that while some adult-content providers are paying the $200 pre-registration fee because they want to use the domain, other non-porn brands (including MTV Networks, Budget Travel and the Red Cross) are preregistering “to avoid future legal battles with cybersquatters who register trademarks with the intention of reselling them.”

According to Reuters, ICM Registry, the domain operator administering the .xxx domain, is already accepting early applications from owners of different brands who want control over them.

A PC World report said that “initial returns in the UK indicate that four of five businesses that have pre-registered for the XXX domain have no relationship to the porn industry.”

The ICM Registry told Reuters it has received over 900,000 “expressions of interest” from companies wanting to pre-register their trademarks or block others.

In the report, Kristina Rosette, a trademark lawyer at Covington & Burling, said that many companies feel they're being blackmailed to protect their brands.

However, requiring pre-registration fees to protect trademarks is common among domain registries, which include the expected revenue in the business plans and projections, Rosette pointed out.

So where did the domain .xxx come from, you ask?

According to Reuters, ICM Registry, the private company that is introducing .xxx, was founded by a British tech investor Stuart Lawley, who first proposed the .xxx domain in 2000 with his partners to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the international governing body that oversees top-level domains and reviews new applications.

However, Lawley et al have faced fierce opposition from religious and conservative groups for more than a decade based on moral grounds. In March 2011, ICM finally won a final approval from ICANN's board and a 10-year contract to manage the .xxx domain.

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Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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