No Cybersquatting on .XXX, ICM Registry Says

TORONTO, Canada — Despite speculation in the media and on webmaster boards that the .XXX sponsored top-level domain could invite a wave of cybersquatting, Jason Hendeles, vice president of ICM Registry, told XBiz that his company has multiple measures in place to prevent such underhanded tactics.

The World Intellectual Property Organization said that in 2004 it mediated 1,110 disputes related to cybersquatting, the act of registering domains, usually related to specific brands or trademarks, and holding them hostage.

In the most widely publicized case of cybersquatting in the adult entertainment industry, Steve Cohen was found guilty in 2001 of using forged documents to steal the domain Sex.com from its rightful owner, Gary Kremen, and ordered to pay $65 million to Kremen.

In response to the growing number of cybersquatting incidents, WIPO has suggested restricting registrations of new domains to copyright and trademark owners first and opening registrations to the general public only after a specified period of time has elapsed.

According to Hendeles, however, ICM Registry is carefully reviewing WIPO’s analysis of intellectual property concerns associated with the launch of new sTLDs, “and we plan to integrate the WIPO's recommendations into our administrative procedures for the initial limited launch and for addressing cybersquatting concerns on an ongoing basis.

“We have developed a robust and fair procedure to safeguard the online adult-entertainment community against the possibility of cybersquatting once the .XXX TLD goes live,” Hendeles said.

Among those safeguards, ICM will require registrants to be bona fide publishers or other members of the online adult entertainment community.

Also, prior to the general launch of the .XXX domain, ICM will run a “STOP,” or Start Up Trademark Opposition Process, as well as "limited launch" period, during which webmasters who are “readily able to be authenticated as having an established presence in the adult content business” will have an exclusive opportunity to lock down their names and brands.

“We firmly believe that we and ICANN share the same interest in ensuring that the launch of .XXX does not become an opportunity for cybersquatters or others with questionable motivation to damage the very community we intend to promote and to serve,” Hendeles added.

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