Kristina Rosette, a trademark lawyer at the law firm of Covington & Burling, told Reuters that many businesses feel that they're being blackmailed by ICM Registry to protect their brands and domain names from cybersqatters and typosquatters waiting to pounce on the upcoming triple-X porn domain.
According to Reuters, both porn and mainstream businesses alike are reportedly complaining that they're being forced into purchasing domain names they don't really want, need or use – all for the sake of preserving their brands. Even U.S.-based Hustler Magazine is griping about the required $200 to $300 reservation fee for each of its domain names – including Hustlertv.com, Hustlerclothing.com and Hustlerstore.com – and is not only refusing to pay, but insists that ICM Registry block the use of Hustler's brand free of charge.
ICM Registry claims that it has already received over 900,000 "expressions of interest" from companies that want to pre-register their trademarks or block others from snapping them up and reselling them back for an inflated fee. For a $200 to $300 fee, ICM Registry, which handles the upcoming .xxx Internet domain launching in December, will prevent companies from creating websites like coke.xxx, barbie.xxx, redcross.xxx, batman.xxx and even MTV.xxx.
The desperation to secure brands and domain names from being used on the porn-related domain is understandable. As an example, Budget Travel doesn't want potential customers entering its name into a search engine while planning a trip, and then pulling up "something inappropriate." MTV Networks is scrambling to secure all of its brands too including VH1, Comedy Central and even SpongeBob SquarePants.
Just imagine the damage that could be done when kids go looking for the popular talking sponge and pull up a different sponge of another sort linked a spongebob.xxx website. Even Warner Bros is facing the same situation with popular brands like Superman, Batman, Harry Potter, Looney Tunes and many others. The company must shell out a fee for each possible .xxx domain name that could be linked back to one of of its popular brands.
ICM Registry, the private company that is introducing .xxx, reportedly isn't keeping a dime of the $200 to $300 fee received by the companies. "We're doing it on a cost-recovery basis," said ICM Founder Stuart Lawley. We don't make a dime out of it." He added that the fees would serve to cover the cost of verifying the applicant's identity and trademark ownership. Still, many big companies own tens of thousands of web domain names – imagine shelling out a fee for each. Someone must be sitting on a mound of cash.
As previously mentioned, the biggest adversaries are the cybersquatters and the typosquatters. The former group will register well-known trademarks to either increase traffic to its websites, or to sell them back to the trademark owners at an incredibly inflated price. Typosquatters are similar, only that they register names with slight typographical errors (like dissney.com or cokes.com). The only way to regain control is to pay the hefty price (ransom), or take the domain name holder to court which could cost thousands of dollars.
Reportedly eighty-percent of the registrants so far have been outside the porn industry. Official registration doesn't even begin until September. Certain non-profit outfits like the Red Cross and the International Olympic Committee do not have to pay a fine because they fall under the ICANN's special protection rules.