Domain Shakedown: Companies Warned About The Dangers Of Unprotected .SX

from the ugh dept

Ever since ICANN announced plans to allow tons of new top level domains to enter the market, many have recognized that this was nothing more than a money grab — as companies would feel compelled to buy up “their” names to keep them out of the hands of others. What’s amazing is that TLD operators are barely even hiding this in their marketing material. Lauren Weinstein recently received a “pitch” from the operators of the new .sx domain. .sx isn’t one of the new “generic” TLDs from ICANN, but rather is a newish TLD from Sint Maarten (an “autonomous country” from within the Netherlands) similar to various other “new” TLDs built off of lucky country codes (such as .tv, .ly and .co). However, the marketing message for .sx is really quite incredible. Basically, they’re saying .sx is quite similar to “sex” and, gee, you wouldn’t want your brand associated with sex, would you?

Dear *******

We would like to inform you that the Landrush Phase of the new .SX extension of Sint Maarten has now closed and will be available next Thursday, on November 15th, 2012 in the final phase called

General Availability

> From that date, you will be able to register .SX domain names on a first-come-first served basis.

We would like to emphasize the importance of the .SX extension that can be confused with or misspelled from the word

sex

registering your trademark or company names as domain in the extension may thus protect your image and prevent from confusion with the adult industry.

If this feels mighty close to the traditional “nice business you’ve got there… wouldn’t want anything to happen to it, now would you?” approach, that’s because it’s pretty clearly the idea behind this line of marketing. Pay up or something un-family-like might show up near your brand.

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Comments on “Domain Shakedown: Companies Warned About The Dangers Of Unprotected .SX”

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16 Comments
Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Don't we already have laws for that?

Seems to me that if I had a brand, and someone *did* try to register a fake domain based around its name like this email insinuates might happen, then I would have a perfect case to take that person to court for (actually legitimate this time) trademark infringement.

After all, as Techdirt continually reminds us when trademark infringement suits are abused, the whole point of the idea is to prevent customer confusion. If someone were to actually attempt to build a site with the clear purpose of causing such confusion, it would be an open and shut case.

Machin Shin (profile) says:

Re: Don't we already have laws for that?

Of course in some cases they might not be infringing on a trademark but still using a name you don’t want thought of in that way.

For example, Microsoft.sx could be a grate site for say… small strap-on dildos. Now it would not be infringing on trademark so long as they made it clear they were not associated with the software maker and that instead they were making their own “software”.

Embarrassing for Microsoft? Yes, Infringing? No

Bengie says:

Re: Don't we already have laws for that?

Trademarks are not globally unique, only market unique.

If I created a company called Microsoft that didn’t compete in software/hardware, but instead porn, then it’s not trademark infringement, so long as I don’t try to parody the logo enough to be considered “confusing”.

Now it could get sketchy if a porn site popped up called Harvard.sx and had girls wearing Harvard Uni clothing or somehow attempted to associate with the other entity.

Manabi (profile) says:

Re: Don't we already have laws for that?

Seems to me that if I had a brand, and someone *did* try to register a fake domain based around its name like this email insinuates might happen, then I would have a perfect case to take that person to court for (actually legitimate this time) trademark infringement.

You could use the domain name dispute process and probably get the domain name turned over to you on trademark grounds as well, but then… you still have to pay the yearly fee for the domain to keep it. So the registrar for .sx domains wins and you still lose.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wikipedia says Sint Maarten has a population of 37,429. Do they REALLY need a top level domain? Even if we use every possible combination of two and three letters, we only have 18,252 possible top-level domains. That’s way less than one per every 37,429 people on the planet.

If they’re a subdivision of the Netherlands, then they should get .sx.nl or whatever. Is that really so inconvenient?

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