One of the biggest online pornography companies, Manwin Licensing International SARL, has filed a lawsuit against ICM Registry over the .xxx domain name. The firm says the domain names, at six times cost of ordinary domain names, are too expensive.
Manwin Licensing International SARL complains that the the new .xxx domain names add unnecessary costs to business operations and amount to ICM, and other organizations assigning online addresses, running a monopoly. Manwin, according to The Wall Street Journal, accused ICM of "monopolistic conduct, price gouging, and anticompetitive and unfair practices." Manwin says ICM charges annual registration fees of $60 per address, which according to a Manwin spokeswoman, "can add up as specific sites and versions with minor typos are registered."
The lawsuit says the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that awarded contract to ICM should overhaul or stop the process for assigning .xxx domain names. Manwin says the process ICM has adopted in assigning names forces companies to buy .xxx names to prevent acquisition by domain squatters. This, according to Manwin, will lead to higher costs for businesses.
Manwin, according to PC Mag, runs a network of low-profile but high-traffic sites, including YouPorn.com. The firm also manages Playboy Enterprises presence on the Web and the California-based pornographic movie maker Digital Playground Inc.
Online pornography has the reputation of being one of the most profitable categories of business ventures on the Internet, such that many have said "Internet was made for pornography." This may partly explain why .xxx domain names quickly became the new vogue in pricey Internet domain names.
PC Mag reports that the new domain name was intended to distinguish porn sites from non-porn sites but there soon sprang up a market for expensive domain names that were not exclusively for porn sites. Early in September, ICM began a 52-day "sunrise period" that allowed trademark holders to purchase .xxx domain names before they go public. The program, according to PC Mag, was run on two tracks: Sunrise A for operators in the adult entertainment industry, and Sunrise B for those outside the industry who might not want to have their domain names associated with the online pornography industry.
The program was to run till Oct. 28 after which .xxx domain names would be open to the public on Dec. 6.
PC Mag reports that in October, gay-dot-xxx domain sold for $500,000. The incident led to claims that the new .xxx domain suffix may have a negative impact on Internet porn business.
Stuart Lawly of ICM, however, denied the claims, saying:
"We are certain the claims are baseless and will vigorously defend this matter."
Manwin's attorney Kevin Gaut, according to The Wall Street Journal , said that operation of the .xxx domain name was an "an unnecessary cost on everybody, without any benefit for the adult entertainment community."