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Universities Scramble To Buy .xxx Domain Names

December 14, 2011

Universities across the U.S. are scooping up .xxx website addresses in a bid to secure important addresses and prevent adult content providers from associating themselves with various school trademarks.

Two months ago, ICM Registry began giving trademark holders an opportunity to pay $200 per address as a one-time blocking charge to ensure the address would not be used for adult content.

The University of Kansas quickly purchased the rights to several addresses, including kansas.xxx and rockchalkjayhawk.xxx and jayhawks.xxx.

Last week, when the public sale began, the college purchased several more addresses, including kustore.xxx, kugirls.xxx and jayhawk.xxx, bringing its total to more than 20.

“We settled on the ones that we thought it would be reasonable for us to protect,” said Paul Vander Tuig, the university’s trademark licensing director, in an interview with USAToday.

“It’s truly a preventative blocking measure, blocking others from doing it.”

Across the country, other colleges such as Penn State, Michigan, Purdue, Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon and Indiana followed suit.

The University of Missouri purchased the addresses missouri.xxx, missouritigers.xx and mizzou.xxx.

Meanwhile, Texas A&M University officials said they have purchased 15 .xxx domain names to keep the adult industry from associating itself with various Aggie trademarks.
A&M spokesman Jason Cook told The Eagle of Bryan-College Station that administrators chose to protect the university’s federally protected trademarks, including its mascot “Reveille,” at a cost of $3,000 to $5,000.

The university also blocked about a dozen names, such as “hookemhorns.xxx”, as an insurance policy against any possible misuses.

Internet domain group Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved the .xxx domain earlier this year, although ICM Registry originally submitted a proposal in 2000.

What the .xxx domain does “is to clearly signpost adult entertainment on the Net. For those people who want to find adult content, they can easily find it,” said ICM Registry CEO Stuart Lawley.

“For those who wish to avoid this kind of content, not only can you see that it has the .xxx as a suffix visibly “¦ parents can set their browser settings at home and on mobile devices to filter this content out automatically.”

However, current adult content sites are not required to move from .com or .net addresses, which could make things confusing, said ICANN’s Brad White.

“Half the porn industry likes it and half doesn’t,” he said.

Before placing the .xxx addresses up for sale, some key addresses were sold, such as the gay.xxx address, which gay film production studio Corbin Fisher bought for half a million dollars.

In addition to universities, companies also took advantage of the opportunity to purchase “defensive registrations,” Lawley said.

“A lot of famous brands did that.”

For instance, addresses such as www.disney.xxx and www.marvel.xxx indicate they have been reserved.

Acquiring addresses as a defensive move makes sense, said Barbara Brooks, co-senior partner at The Strategy Group.

“It’s to preclude anybody else from using their good name in an inappropriate way,” she told USAToday.

Once addresses become publicly available, cyber squatters can purchase them and re-sell them at a high premium.

“It’s an unfortunate part of what one does today in order to do business and maintain the integrity of the institutional name, the brand name, the organization, the students, whatever it is that one has built the equity in that what we have to do in this digital age.”

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Source: RedOrbit Staff & Wire Reports



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