.XXX registry ups ante in online porn monopoly fight

ICM Registry files counterclaims against online adult entertainment giant.

Is it possible to have a monopoly on online porn?

That’s part of the argument in a legal fight between porn giant Manwin and .xxx registry ICM registry.

Last week ICM Registry filed counterclaims (pdf) against Manwin in response to Manwin’s antitrust lawsuit over .xxx. It’s seeking treble damages on at least $40 million in damages.

ICM claims that Manwin grew to dominance with its free “tube” sites that popped up after YouTube in the middle of last decade. The company says that Manwin acquired many of these tube sites in an attempt to control the flow of traffic to adult sites.

ICM’s counterclaims allege that the approval of .xxx threatened Manwin’s dominance as it could lead to the more tube sites. With the .xxx TLD these sites might show up higher in search results for adult terms.

Whether or not having .xxx helps in search rankings may be debatable, but ICM claims that Manwin’s managing director shared this concern with ICM Registry consultants.

ICM alleges that Manwin tried to buy in to .xxx but was rebuffed. It alleges that Manwin then sought to stifle .xxx’s success with anti-competitive behaviors such as

– Requiring some webmasters that want promotion on its tube sites to boycott .xxx
– Pulled down content from its tube sites that was from .xxx sites
– Convenced adult entertainment events not to do business with ICM
– Coerced .xxx spokesmodels to end relationships with ICM

One interesting thing about the legal fight over .xxx is that it’s brought Manwin out of the shadows. The company’s web site describes it as an “information technology firm”, and used to have little mention of porn.


  1. says

    At PACER, there are 52 filings for this case, yet ICANN has not posted even half of them as of right now. There was a 9/28/2012 “Answer to Amended Complaint” filed by itself and ICM that should be made public by ICANN.

  2. Ben says

    ICM Registry is getting desperate. They’re nowhere near the numbers they predicted they would be hitting. The 10 year defensive registrations won’t be bringing in any new money. The speculators aren’t likely to hold on to their .xxx domains (at 10 times the renewal fee of a .com). The majority of the adult industry is still boycotting .xxx and the industry as a whole is suffering financially due to piracy and related problems. ICM’s IFFOR has failed to keep pirated content, malware and underage content from the active .xxx domains. Their search.xxx failed to attract any real visitors (ICM has been padding their stats with traffic buys). They have cut back on staff (they are no longer active on the boards). Registrars have been running promos on .xxx domains indicating that there’s no real demand for them. The adult Paypal clone ICM promised has failed to materialize. Alternative adult tlds are on the horizon and it’s no longer evident that ICM will be getting those contracts.

    When the majority of .xxx domains come up for renewal in a couple of weeks and a large part of those won’t be renewed, ICM Registry will no longer be able to hide the truth: They are in financial trouble.

    Stuart can kiss his race boat goodbye.

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