Blog

.XXX domain name redux

Posted by ipelton on: December 15th, 2011

The availability of .XXX domain names went public last week.  Many companies registered or blocked the .XXX domains that correspond with their brands.  I think this was a wise choice even though it was arguably a form a extortion by the domain registries.  The cost was a few hundred dollars. The risk of not owning or blocking it was unknown – who would buy it? what would they try to do with it? how much might it cost to shut them down? how would someone else using/owning the domain name affect search engine results? could a brand.xxx website – even if live only for a few days – cause damage to a reputable, protected, and valuable brand?

As I said before, the risks were too large in my opinion to let the .XXX domains go unblocked.  According to one report, Google will treat .XXX domains just like any others (via AVN.com) – to me that means a greater risk of potential damage (if Google decided to block them or treat them differently, the potential harm might be minimized) According to a report, in the first 24 hours of general availability there were more than 55,000 new .XXX domain name registrations created.

But  some companies chose not to register the .XXX domains corresponding with their brands. According to an article on msnbc.com, HuffingtonPost.xxx and NBCNews.xxx.  But according to Domain Incite, this information may be inaccurate as the .XXX registrar – ICM Registry – may have on its own taken control of some domains that it believe were infringing trademarks. This could open a new can of worms as many brand owners paid the fees to block domains corresponding to their registered domains. If the Domain Incite information is true, some brand owners received the same result without any cost.  How did ICM decide which brands deserved the pro-active protection without the request of the trademark holder? The same issue may have already arisen in relation to .XXX domains corresponding to celebrity names – some were apparently automatically protected, others were not.

 Where does this leave us? I’m not sure. Some clarification from ICM Registry would be great. Absent such clarification I still believe that brand owners are better off registering the domain names rather than worry about the potentially difficult, damaging and/or costly answers to questions such as:

– who would buy it?

– what would they try to do with it?

– how much might it cost to shut them down and .XXX site?

– how would someone else using/owning the domain name affect search engine results?

– could a brand.xxx website – even if live only for a few days – cause damage to a reputable, protected, and valuable brand?

Reasonable people may disagree. I would love to hear what other brand owners have decided to due and what other guidance trademark attorneys have provided to their clients on this subject.

image from icmregistry.com

 

Comments are closed.