Universities Are Buying up .xxx Domain Names to Protect Trademarks and Image

By Joseph Mandour on December 15, 2011

Trademark InfringementLos Angeles – It would seem quite unusual for an academic institution like Brigham Young University (BYU) with a long tradition of conservative Mormon values to be interested in purchasing domain names that end in the newly created .xxx name, but that is exactly what is happening. However, the purpose is one of protecting BYU’s image. BYU along with other academic institutions and companies were given the opportunity to purchase .xxx trade domain names from ICM registry, the exclusive dealer in .xxx domain names, months before the .xxx names would be available to the public. The cost of each .xxx name is $200 dollars with at least one school, Indiana University, spending $2200 dollars to protect the school’s name from being confused with a pornography site.

Along with several academic institutions, companies such as Disney and Target have also followed suit to ensure that their consumers do not confuse their good name with an illicit pornography website. Meanwhile, ICM registry is likely to be the beneficiary of an enormous financial windfall. It’s expected that companies will spend up to $200 million purchasing between 3 to 5 million domain names in an effort to act defensively.

The creation of the .xxx domain name has been the result of a long and contentious 10 year legal battle between ICM registry and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). In March 2011, ICANN gave final approval of the .xxx domain name. Parent groups and employers supported the decision believing it would be easier to monitor children and their employees, respectively, by using filtering systems that could block the .xxx domain. Ironically, the pornography industry has been opposed to the .xxx domain decision due to what they believe is isolating the pornography industry into a “digital ghetto” on the internet.

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