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Can You Keep Your Business’s Name Off New .XXX Domains?

September 7, 2011

.XXX. The domain name that says it all.

Soon, some pornographic websites will be hosted on the distinct domain. Starting today, trademark holders can apply to keep their names off the .xxx domain.

The domain extension has many benefits: it’s easier to find the “content” the user is looking for, it makes for good advertising, and it makes those sites easier to filter to make browsing safer for children or work.
The downside, however, is the risk of cybersquatting by clever porn marketers.I’ve written about cybersquatting before. Basically, it is a way for webmasters to get extra traffic to their site by buying a domain name similar to one for which you might actually be looking. (e.g., http://macdonalds.com/).In this case, the threat is a little bit different. An .xxx domain name could be registered with a person’s name, leading the user to believe there is pornographic content featuring that person.Some celebrities and noteworthy names are already banned from the .xxx domain, and more are sure to come.

If you want to avoid having your  brand name listed on a .xxx domain, you can file a request with ICM Registry, the Florida-based company in charge of registering and managing the new extension. The company is currently in the second-phase of launch, known as “Sunrise B.” During this phase, which runs from September 7 to October 28, 2011, owners of a “qualifying trademark registration” can opt out of the domain, reserving their name against other uses.

If you are an individual without any level of fame, however, you probably cannot opt out. If ever someone lists your name on a .xxx site, you may have to resort to a good old fashioned lawsuit to bring it down.

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