American businesses are scrambling to protect their brand names before .xxx Internet domains launch in December, and the $200ish fee has a few them feeling a bit peeved. What's rubbing them the wrong way is the potential for cybersquatters to cherry pick high profile brand names and turn them into sultry websites. A person could, for example, scoop up Nike.xxx and get creative with the company's "Just Do It" slogan, or Reebok.xxx with its "Life is short, play hard" tagline.
According to Reuters, ICM Registry has already received more than 900,000 "expressions of interest" from companies looking to pre-register .xxx websites, either to claim their trademarks or prevent others from abusing their brand, like in the examples above. Companies like MTV Networks and even the Red Cross have sent in pre-registration requests as a preventative measure against having to sic their lawyers on cybersquatters. The problem is these companies don't want to use the domains, they're just trying to make sure their brand name isn't sullied, and they aren't real keen on the fees involved.
"Many feel they're being blackmailed to protect their brands," said Kristina Rosette, a trademark lawyer.
ICM Registry founder Stuart Lawley denies the charges, claiming this is nothing like a virtual shakedown and that his company isn't making any money from the registration fees.
"We're doing it on a cost-recovery basis. We don't make a dime out of it," Lawley claims. According to Lawley, the money is used to verify that an applicant is really who he says he is, and that he owns the trademark in question.
So far it appears that most of the application fees are coming from businesses outside of the porn industry. According to U.K. registrar Easyspace, 8 out of 10 pre-registry applications are from brands that have no affiliation with pron.