opinion

.XXX Registrars to Profit from Trademark Blocking

Diane Duke

MickeyMouse.xxx, anyone?

.XXX administrator ICM Registry and its partner IPRota have issued a white paper outlining the cost to trademark and rights holders that would like to block their brands from being registered in the adult-only domain.

The white paper was published this morning – lo and behold, because trademark holders will be forced to deal with registrars and not permitted to go to ICM directly, prices will vary – but the projected price for those that choose to block during the “sunrise” period, is $300 per address! IPRota’s announcement was scheduled to coincide with the annual International Trademark Association meeting being held this week. After the sunrise, things will apparently get much darker and potentially much more expensive.

So, that means that notoriously protective brands like Disney will potentially be forced to pay to block hundreds of .XXX addresses, in order to protect their brands. Fox senior vice president Mei-lan Stark was quoted in an article posted on WorldTrademarkReview.com, saying that the company is looking at 300 or 400 addresses that would have to be defensively blocked. Then, Stark added that if another 400 gTLDs were added to the Internet and Fox decided to defensively block on each domain, for each address, the annual cost could end up somewhere around $12 million.

Perhaps Stark is projecting a worst case scenario, but the logic makes sense. At this point, what’s to stop the precedent-setting money grab for ICM and its affiliated registrars now that .XXX has been approved by ICANN? The competition has already started as another article at RedOrbit.com announced today that registrar DomainMonster.com has blocking for trademark holders at $149.50 – more than double the wholesale price being offered by ICM for .XXX addresses. Folks that want to purchase .XXX domains from DomainMonster.com during the general availability period will find prices “starting” at $74.99.

We also would like to point out that the only company involved in the .XXX debacle that has changed to a .XXX address is ICM – and at this rate, they’ll be the only ones that can afford the annual fees. Not only will mainstream trademark and rights holders be paying to protect their businesses – adult online businesses are in an even worse position. How many addresses will you have to block, in order to prevent cyber-squatting and protect your traffic?

And when the mainstream online businesses realize how much this added extra .XXX expense could cost them, guess who they’re going to blame? The big, bad, evil “multi-billion dollar” adult industry. The folks at Amazon and Apple don’t know that the adult industry didn’t want this Top Level Domain either. And neither does India or Kenya, or any countries with anti-pornography policies. Just last week, Europe told the U.S. Dept of Commerce that there needs to be more transparency with Internet regulator ICANN, resulting from the .XXX approval – so we’re thinking the EU isn’t about to jump on the .XXX bandwagon.

FSC urges all adult online business owners to stay .COM – say NO to .XXX. We have led the opposition to .XXX because we believe that its bad for business and bad for the Internet. You worked hard to build your brand – do you want to pay Beverly Hills prices for an address in the adult-only online ghetto? Is it realistic to think that a .XXX address will attract enough traffic to cover your annual fees – or is it more likely that the registrars will be laughing all the way to the bank? – jc

(Photo courtesy of Bwmoll3)

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