Universities Seek Trademark Protection As .XXX Top Level Domain Launched

By Joseph Mandour on November 10, 2011

domain-name-http- www-thumb-200x149-33435 San Diego, CA – Recently, the sponsored top-level domain .xxx was launched to cater to adult entertainment websites. The domain will give pornographic and other websites the option to adopt a domain name other than .com. As the domain becomes available for registration to closed groups, universities have been purchasing domain names with the .xxx extension to protect university trademarks.

The .xxx domain began a “sunrise phase” on September 7, 2011, allowing trademark owners to purchase domain names containing their trademarks or combinations thereof. As of November 8, the domain began its “land rush” phase, in which registration is available to selected parties.

Universities have taken advantage of the opportunity to purchase their own domain names with the .xxx extension for only a few hundred dollars. Washington University in St. Louis purchased washu.xxx, Washingtonuniversity.xxx and wustl.xxx. The University of Missouri-Columbia registered Missouri.xxx and missouritigers.xxx. Spokespersons for the universities stated that the domains were registered to prevent internet users from encountering university trademarks at these .xxx sites. Though the universities could potentially file a claim for trademark infringement if their trademarks are adopted as domain names and infringed, the universities elected to act preemptively to prevent an association between the schools and adult content.

Many universities have also purchased domain names similar to their official website that end in .com or .net. In most cases, the universities use the alternate domain names to redirect users to its official site. However, Washington University’s trademark manager stated that in this case the move was purely defense. The .xxx sites will not redirect users.

While many in the adult entertainment business plan to take advantage of the extension, some claim that the domain may allow internet services providers to block x-rated material with greater ease. The .xxx domain name will not be mandatory for pornographic and adult entertainment sites who may still operate under the .com domain.

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