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.XXX registry ups ante in online porn monopoly fight

ICM Registry files counterclaims against online adult entertainment giant.

Is it possible to have a monopoly on online porn?

That’s part of the argument in a legal fight between porn giant Manwin and .xxx registry ICM registry.

Last week ICM Registry filed counterclaims (pdf) against Manwin in response to Manwin’s antitrust lawsuit over .xxx. It’s seeking treble damages on at least $40 million in damages.

ICM claims that Manwin grew to dominance with its free “tube” sites that popped up after YouTube in the middle of last decade. The company says that Manwin acquired many of these tube sites in an attempt to control the flow of traffic to adult sites.

ICM’s counterclaims allege that the approval of .xxx threatened Manwin’s dominance as it could lead to the more tube sites. With the .xxx TLD these sites might show up higher in search results for adult terms.

Whether or not having .xxx helps in search rankings may be debatable, but ICM claims that Manwin’s managing director shared this concern with ICM Registry consultants.

ICM alleges that Manwin tried to buy in to .xxx but was rebuffed. It alleges that Manwin then sought to stifle .xxx’s success with anti-competitive behaviors such as

- Requiring some webmasters that want promotion on its tube sites to boycott .xxx
- Pulled down content from its tube sites that was from .xxx sites
- Convenced adult entertainment events not to do business with ICM
- Coerced .xxx spokesmodels to end relationships with ICM

One interesting thing about the legal fight over .xxx is that it’s brought Manwin out of the shadows. The company’s web site describes it as an “information technology firm”, and used to have little mention of porn.


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People like porn: search.xxx gets 500k searches in a day

New search engine for sites on .xxx domains get lots of traffic within first 24 hours.

search.xxxYesterday at about this time ICM Registry switched on its new .xxx search engine, search.xxx.

Now, about 24 hours later, the company says it has already served 500,000 searches to 100,000 unique visitors.

The site was certainly helped by lots of media coverage, but this is an impressive number any way you look at it.

Search.xxx has indexed more than 21 million pages of content exclusively on the .xxx domain name. With many adult site operators crying foul over recent search engine changes, this extra traffic will certainly be welcome. Granted, even 500,000 searches doesn’t mean much traffic if spread fairly evenly across the sites.

I don’t know why I feel compelled to state the obvious, but search.xxx is definitely NSFW (once you get past the home page).


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.XXX up to 137k active registrations, 220k total, and new $630k premium sale

.XXX registry about to announce details of premium sale as registration count continues to grow.

The .xxx domain name now has 137,000 active registrations, ICM Registry founder Stuart Lawley told Domain Name Wire today.

The latest official ICANN numbers for the domain date to the end of February with 128,736 registrations. That means the TLD is adding a few thousand active registrations a month.

Although it may not seem like a huge number, that’s roughly $7 million in annual registration fees to ICM.

And that’s just for annual registrations.

Lawley tells me the domain has 220,000 total registrations including blocked domains, meaning there are around 83,000 one time “block” registrations.

ICM Registry is also about to announce a premium portfolio sale to a European adult company totaling $630,000.

According to ICANN’s latest published numbers (dating to February), Go Daddy is the top registrar for .xxx domain names. Here’s a list of the top 10 registrars as of the end of February. Keep in mind this does not include sunrise “blocked” registrations.

1. Go Daddy 36,111 (Wild West Domains, Blue Razor)
2. Network Solutions 16,633
3. Instra 4,636
4. Name.com 4,272
5. eNom 4,210
6. United Domains 3,820
7. Tucows 3,750
8. Ascio Technologies 3,645
9. PublicDomainRegistry 3,450
10. CSC 3,198


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.XXX up to 137k active registrations, 220k total, and new $630k premium sale

.XXX registry about to announce details of premium sale as registration count continues to grow.

The .xxx domain name now has 137,000 active registrations, ICM Registry founder Stuart Lawley told Domain Name Wire today.

The latest official ICANN numbers for the domain date to the end of February with 128,736 registrations. That means the TLD is adding a few thousand active registrations a month.

Although it may not seem like a huge number, that’s roughly $7 million in annual registration fees to ICM.

And that’s just for annual registrations.

Lawley tells me the domain has 220,000 total registrations including blocked domains, meaning there are around 83,000 one time “block” registrations.

ICM Registry is also about to announce a premium portfolio sale to a European adult company totaling $630,000.

According to ICANN’s latest published numbers (dating to February), Go Daddy is the top registrar for .xxx domain names. Here’s a list of the top 10 registrars as of the end of February. Keep in mind this does not include sunrise “blocked” registrations.

1. Go Daddy 36,111 (Wild West Domains, Blue Razor)
2. Network Solutions 16,633
3. Instra 4,636
4. Name.com 4,272
5. eNom 4,210
6. United Domains 3,820
7. Tucows 3,750
8. Ascio Technologies 3,645
9. PublicDomainRegistry 3,450
10. CSC 3,198


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.XXX registry and many other domain companies head to INTA meeting next week

There’s money in brand protection.

9,000 people are expected to attend the International Trademark Association (INTA) annual meeting in Washington, DC May 5-9. Some of the topics on the agenda for next week include domain names and how companies can protected their brands in an expanding top level name space.

There will be a lot of domain name companies in attendance. Here are some that are exhibiting:

101domain.com
DomainTools
GoDaddy
ICM Registry (.xxx registry)
Key-Systems
Marksmen Inc.
Melbourne IT DBS
Safenames LTD

You may be surprised to see ICM Registry on the list, but it makes perfect sense. Many of its customers are trademarks holders who want to protect their brands. I suspect ICM will also start talking up its plans to help trademark holders by applying for several other adult top level domains, such as .sex.


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Free Speech Coalition Provides Template Trademark Protection Letter to Adult Sites

Letters threaten legal action if trademarks are registered as .xxx domains.

Free Speech Coalition, which has been fairly quiet since organizing a poorly attended protest at an ICANN meeting in San Francisco earlier this year, is making some noise again.

The group that represents some adult webmasters has provided a template “Trademark Protection Letter” for adult web site owners to send to .xxx registry ICM Registry. People can customize the letter with their list of trademarks to put ICM “on notice”.

According to the letter, ICM Registry has a greater responsibility than generic registries to protect specific trademarks because it’s clear that they will be used in direct competition with the owners. The letter states:

In contrast, if the holder of a trademark engages in selling specific products and services, a third party purchasing a domain identical to the trademark in a generic TLD, such as .NET or .BIZ
only improperly competes against the trademark holder if the use of the domain name is directly
in competition with the holder’s area of business.

The letter concludes with a threat:

ICM is now on notice that the registration of any domain name using the .XXX extension that is identical or confusingly similar to one of the trademarks or domains listed on Exhibit A will violate (COMPANY NAME)’s intellectual property rights and constitute an unfair business practice. ICM must take steps to prevent such activity before it can occur. Failure to take affirmative steps to prevent this conduct will establish ICM’s substantial liability.

(COMPANY NAME) welcomes the opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue with ICM, should ICM choose to resolve these matters other than through litigation.


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900,000 .XXX Domain Names? You Make The Call.

How many .xxx domain names will be registered in the first year?

ICM Registry says it has received nearly 900,000 “expressions of interest” for its .xxx top level domain name. It has also extended the sunrise period for trademark holders, apparently due to demand.

Anyone could submit an expression of interest in a .xxx domain name and some of them are for the same domain name, so no one has paid the $70+ per domain for these yet. But that will soon change.

It’s clear there will be a lot of registrations, and not all from willing participants. There are also already over two dozen domain name registrars signed up to accept registrations — most notably GoDaddy.

So, how many domains do you think will be registered by one year after general availability, which would be December 7, 2012?

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.


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.XXX Is Going to Bank of Defensive Non-Registration Fee

Registry will get a windfall in initial fees to block registrations of trademarks.

.XXX could set a record when it comes to defensive domain name registrations.

A “defensive registration” is when a brand registers a domain name solely to keep it out of the hands of cybersquatters or competitors.

When you look back at previous new TLDs you’ll find a number of large brands defensively registered their domains. But you’ll still find lots of brands that don’t bother to register .info, .biz, and other newer extensions.

When .tel came out, some companies that were aware of it didn’t bother to register. They didn’t think it was the end of the world if someone else nabbed the domain name.

With .Co there was a bit more concern because of its similarity to .com.

But .xxx scares them.

Law firms are emailing their clients (I received one such notice last night). The trademark press is constantly writing about it.

And if there’s one thing most brands don’t want to be associated with, it’s porn.

Thankfully, .xxx registry ICM Registry is providing an innovative way for these companies to defensively register their domains. It’s more of a “non-registration” that will block the domain from being registered by another party.

So let’s say Verizon is worried about someone registering Verizon.xxx. It doesn’t have to register the domain annually for itself; it can pay a one time fee to block it for as long as ICM runs the .xxx registry.

This fee is expected to be about $200-$300 at the retail level.

But brands will have only 30 days to take advantage of this blocking offer, so they should educate themselves quickly.

Given the press’ inclination to write about .xxx, I think ICM Registry is going to get a lot of these defensive registrations.

That said, smaller brands probably don’t need to worry unless they have enemies. At about $75 per year for registration, .xxx cybersquatters will have to limit their activities.

It will also be interesting to see how much certain brands are willing to pay to prevent registrations in other controversial top level domain names possibly on the horizon, including .sex and .porn.


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.XXX Domain Launches Founders Program

December 14, 2010Domaining, Domainnamewire, icm registry, UncategorizedComments Off

Companies can get premium domains if they host “meaningful content” on them.

As ICANN gets closer and closer to approving the .xxx top level domain name, ICM Registry is gearing up by launching its Founders Program.

Modeled after similar programs from other registries, the .XXX Founders Program allows qualified companies to get premium domain names if they agree to develop and promote them. The idea is to get actual web sites using the top level domain name to help ensure its success. (Founders must place “meaningful content” on the sites. I wonder what that means in the adult world.)

In addition to getting premium .xxx domain(s), founders will also get domain names that match the founder’s existing adult domain name portfolio without going through Sunrise or Landrush. Presumably this means the .xxx equivalent of .com’s.

This places some of the domain’s opponents in an interesting position. They can continue fighting the inevitable, or try to be a “founder” to secure their brands. Jumping from opponent to proponent might be tough to swallow, but might also be a smart move.


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.XXX Will Have Three Sunrise Periods

December 7, 2010Domaining, Domainnamewire, icm registry, Policy & LawComments Off

by Kevin Murphy

Trademark holders are to get new rights if and when the porn-only .xxx domain launches.

ICM Registry, which hopes to get its .xxx application approved by ICANN this week, plans to have not one but three sunrise periods when it opens up next year.

The first period would allow owners of porn-related trademarks to claim their .xxx domain names and use them as normal, ICM representatives said here at ICANN’s public meeting in Cartagena, Colombia.

But the second would enable non-porn companies that don’t want their brands associated with adult material to basically “turn off” their trademarks in .xxx domains, paying a one-time fee.

Disney, for example, would be able to make sure that disney.xxx is permanently blocked from registration. The domain would not resolve, not even to forward to disney.com, and the company wouldn’t have to pay recurring annual registration fees.

It does not appear that ICM’s plans would prevent cybersquatters registering domains such as disneyporn.xxx, but high .xxx registration fees will likely make this less of a problem for trademark holders.

The third proposed sunrise would allow owners of non-trademarked porn domains in other TLDs, such as .com, to get their equivalent .xxx using an automated Whois check.

The process is being handled by Valideus, a British IP consultancy.


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