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.XXX registry ups ante in online porn monopoly fight

October 2, 2012.xxx, Domaining, Domainnamewire, icm registry, manwin, Policy & LawComments Off on .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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.XXX up to 137k active registrations, 220k total, and new $630k premium sale

June 7, 2012.xxx, Domaining, Domainnamewire, icm registry, UncategorizedComments Off on .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

June 7, 2012.xxx, Domaining, Domainnamewire, icm registry, UncategorizedComments Off on .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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What do you think about this Vevo.xxx decision?

May 31, 2012.xxx, Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, vevo.comComments Off on What do you think about this Vevo.xxx decision?

Vevo snags triple xxx domain nam.

Vevo.comVevo.com, a music video site backed by Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Abu Dhabi Media, ust won a UDRP case for the domain name Vevo.xxx.

But I find the facts of the case troubling, because it’s hard to provide any proof that the domain was registered in bad faith.

The domain Vevo.xxx only resolves (or did resolve) to a registrar holding page. How can you prove anything about the registrant’s intent based on that? We’re talking about a domain registered just 6 months ago. Saying that the domain is unused as evidence of bad faith seems like a long shot.

Here are some of Vevo’s contentions that I’m not so sure about:

“Considering that VEVO is an arbitrary, coined term, it is highly improbable that Respondent selected the Infringing Domain Name by coincidence, without an intent to trade off the substantial goodwill Complainant has developed in the VEVO trademark.”

It’s a four character term. It could be used for a number of things.

“Further undermining any possible allegation of good faith by Complainant is the fact that Complainant is in the business of lnternet-based videos, and the .XXX sTLD is reserved for adult-entertainment websites (i.e., adult video websites). It is apparent that Respondent registered the Infringing Domain Name with the intent of profiting from the established association between the VEVO mark and video programming. Consumers would inevitably assume that any adult video website posted by Respondent at the Infringing Domain Name is Complainant’s foray into the adult video field, which would be extremely damaging to Complainant’s reputation and to the VEVO brand.”

That assumes the adult site eventually created at Vevo.xxx had video. But this makes Vevo’s motivation for bringing the case is clear. If only it wasn’t asleep at the wheel when .xxx domains came out.

…Respondent could not conceivably have a legitimate interest in the Infringing Domain Name. Under the Charter Eligibility Dispute Resolution Policy (CEDRP) governing the .xxx sTLD, to be eligible to register any .XXX domain name, Respondent must be a member of the relevant “sponsored community” permitted to register a .XXX domain names, namely one who provides “Adult Online Entertainment” (e.g., pornography), or one who represents or provides services to those provide such entertainment. CEDRP ,-r 2(a) (allowing for transfer of the domain name from Respondent when a .XXX TLD domain name “has not been registered in compliance with the Sponsored Community eligibility criteria….”). Here, there is no evidence that Respondent meets this requirement, which itself provides independent grounds for finding no legitimate interest.

Couldn’t conceivably have a legitimate interest? That’s a bold statement not backed by facts. It’s entirely conceivable that the registrant is in the adult business.

The respondent didn’t reply to the case so it didn’t respond to any of these allegations. It’s certainly conceivable that this was a bad faith registration. But I don’t think the burden of proof was met. This is very different from a .xxx case over a term that can only be one brand (Richard Branson) or in which the domain owner made their intent clear (HEB.xxx).

Given the sensitive nature of .xxx, I suspect that panels will always give the benefit of the doubt to the complainant. Especially when the respondent is AWOL.


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UK insurer first to lose .xxx dispute

May 16, 2012.xxx, czech arbitration court, Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, udrpComments Off on UK insurer first to lose .xxx dispute

Request for .xxx domain name denied.

United Kingdom insurance company BGL Group Limited, better known as CompareTheMarket.com, is the first complainant to lose a UDRP for a .xxx domain name.

The company filed the complaint against UK resident Jon Watkins, who registered the domain back in December when .xxx became generally available.

But as I’ve argued previously, it can be rather difficult to prove bad faith in the registration of a .xxx domain name. Most complainants aren’t in the adult entertainment business. And few .xxx domain names will be parked, which could have result in PPC ads related to a complainant. So unless the mark is very famous (and not descriptive/generic) or the owner of the domain tries to sell the domain to the complainant, proving registration in bad faith isn’t easy.

That’s what happened here. A Czech Arbitration Court panel wrote:

But Complainant fails to prove bad faith registration or use of the domain. Complainant states that the domain is “completely inactive”. Complainant does not show that Respondent tried to sell the domain to Complainant, has registered other infringing names, or otherwise has tried to profit from the domain or cause any other harm to Complainant. Respondent is not shown to have had prior UDRP cases in which he has been an unsuccessful Defendant. Clearly, “compare the market” could relate to myriad different types of markets and myriad different comparisons within each one, as demonstrated by a simple web search.

I’m not quite sure why BGL went after this domain name. If it were an active domain name with porn on it and it was getting search rankings I’d understand. Otherwise this seems like a waste of money.

Companies have filed over 20 UDRP cases against .xxx domain names. None had lost prior to this case.


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Another three letter .xxx domain name lost in UDRP

May 7, 2012.xxx, Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, udrpComments Off on Another three letter .xxx domain name lost in UDRP

BGZ.xxx given to bank in Poland.

.xxx UDRP cases present some interesting scenarios that are not common amongst other top level domains.

For example, if the .xxx domain name at issue is just three letters and it doesn’t resolve, how do you prove that it was registered in bad faith? How can the complainant prove that it was the intended “victim” of the registration?

This was first brought up in a case for HEB.xxx.

HEB.xxx didn’t resolve, so it would have been hard for the grocery chain by that name to claim rights to it. Oh, except that the owner had contacted the grocery chain and shown a pattern of similar behavior.

Now the domain name BGZ.xxx has been transferred as a result of a UDRP case. BGZ.xxx is a little different but contains some “gotchas” that doomed the respondent.

The case was brought by Polish bank BG? S.A.

The owner of the domain set up a pornographic web site at BGZ.xxx that he said stood for “Bad Girls Zone”.

That seems plausible. But there were two problems. First, the registrant also lives in Poland, where BGZ has 370 branches. Still a plausible case for the respondent, though.

The kicker is that the registrant also registered the domain name for another bank in Poland, DnB NORD. That was enough to convince the panel that the registrant was indeed targeting BG? S.A.


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Free Speech Coalition Provides Template Trademark Protection Letter to Adult Sites

August 15, 2011.xxx, Domaining, Domainnamewire, free speech coalition, icm registry, Policy & LawComments Off on 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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Masala.xxx Didn’t Get the Memo About India and .XXX Domain Names

August 15, 2011.xxx, Domaining, Domainnamewire, india, Policy & LawComments Off on Masala.xxx Didn’t Get the Memo About India and .XXX Domain Names

Users might have a hard time reaching Indian .xxx site.

I was caught a bit off guard when reading Elliot’s story today about Masala.xxx launching.

This is apparently an adult site aimed at India.

Although I don’t believe anything is done yet, India is high up on list of countries that will try to block .xxx domain names from resolving.

It seems odd that you’d launch a .xxx site aimed squarely and India in the face of it being hard for your target visitors to actually resolve your site.

But perhaps people just visit these sites through proxies anyway.


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

July 18, 2011.xxx, Domaining, Domainnamewire, icm registry, UncategorizedComments Off on 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 Formally Announces IFFOR Board

June 22, 2011.xxx, Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & LawComments Off on .XXX Formally Announces IFFOR Board

Group to help set policy for new .xxx domain name.

One of the interesting quirks about the new .xxx domain name is that it will help fund a group called International Foundation for Online Responsibility (IFFOR).

IFFOR will get $10 from every domain registration in order to initiate “a series of policies for responsible business practices and conduct within the .XXX online adult-entertainment community”.

Today the group sent out a press release formally announcing the members of the IFFOR board as well as initial members of its Policy Council.

Board members include:

Stuart Lawley – CEO of ICM Registry, which is running .xxx
Clyde Beattie – CEO of Yorkland Investment Corp
Sebastien Bachollet, CEO of BBS Consulting and a member of the Board of Directors of ICANN

Policy Council members include:

Fred Cate – Professor of Law at the Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington and director of the Indiana University Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research

Bob Corn-Revere, Partner at Davis Wright Tremain

Nadine Strossen – Served as president of ACLU from 1991 through 2008

Five more Policy Council members will be announced within the next couple months.


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