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Amid lingering controversy about dot-XXX generic top-level domain names for the adult entertainment industry, the registration process was opened up to the general public this week and a fast-track dispute resolution program unrolled. Many trademark owners outside the industry see a need to register under dot-XXX to prevent outsiders from using their trademarks with that top-level domain. The general availability registration period began on Dec. 6. The National Arbitration Forum, one of two organizations that handles most cases involving cybersquatting — the improper use of trademarks in Internet domain-name registrations — launched the fast-track program. The so-called Rapid Evaluation Service could result in a take down of an infringing domain name within two business days. “We are delighted to have them on board as a dispute resolution provider,” said Stuart Lawley, the chief executive of ICM Registry, a dot-XXX domain names administrator. After the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved of dot-XXX, ICM Registry ran a Sunrise registration program for trademark and domain name holders between Sept. 7 and Oct. 31. About 80,000 applications rolled in during that time. Sunrise A allowed eligible parties to register their trademarks or domain names under dot-XXX. Sunrise B period allowed trademark owners to block registration of their trademarks as dot-XXX. The landrush registration period for the adult entertainment community was from Nov. 8 to Nov. 25. Individual registrars authorized by ICM Registry set prices. The rollout of dot-XXX placed trademark owners “in a awkward position,” said Josh Jarvis, an associate at Boston’s Foley Hoag. “They want no part [of this], but at the same time they’re forced to register their valuable brands on the off chance that someone would swoop in an operate a dot-XXX website [with their brand or company name],” Jarvis said. The fast-track arbitration program could be a good thing in cases of clear trademark abuse, such as when an entity registers a well-known mark but isn’t operating a porn site, Jarvis said. “The question is: How often is there going to be clear trademark abuse?” Jarvis said. ICM Registry and ICANN are also contending with a Central District of California lawsuit challenging the operation of the dot-XXX program. On Nov. 16, two pornography Web site companies filed antitrust and unfair competition claims in Manwin Licensing International S.a.r.l. v. ICM Registry LLC d/b/a .xxx, claiming antitrust violations under federal and California law and violations of California’s unfair competition laws. “ICM Registry has been working on the development of this…for more than 10 years and has taken extensive measures to ensure it is being launched in the most lawful and responsible way possible,” said ICM’s Lawley, in a prepared statement. “Perhaps Manwin has filed this lawsuit because they are worried that ICM Registry is creating opportunities for others in the adult industry to finally have a fair chance to build great brands and businesses in this new .xxx space.” Manwin’s position is that dot-XXX “is unfair to trademark owners and business and well as the entire adult entertainment industry,” said spokeswoman Kate Miller. Kevin Gaut, a partner at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp in Los Angeles who represents Manwin said the dot-XXX program “is imposing an enormous expense on all owners of trade names and other name rights that we think is unnecessary and has no countervailing value.” “Ultimately those expenses will be borne by consumers,” Gaut said ICANN spokesman Brad White said the organization declined to comment. Sheri Qualters can be contacted at [email protected].

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