Forthcoming .xxx Extension Creating Online Dilemma for Credit Unions

Credit union or porn?

Yes, you read that right. And unfortunately, it’s a question people could conceivably soon be asking as they search for your credit union on the web. Under a new domain name registry targeted to serve the adult entertainment industry, www.yourcreditunion.xxx could display some decidedly not-brand-friendly images.

The problem stems from a major shift in domain name registrations. The adult entertainment industry lobbied long and hard to get the .xxx extension, and it will be enabled later this year. Because this is a wide open registration, your credit union’s domain name as it exists is not protected from registration.

In addition to the obvious threat to your reputation of having yourwebdomainname.xxx distributing adult entertainment products, there is a more subtle threat as well. If unprotected, an unscrupulous person could register yourname.xxx and hold it hostage—charging you an exorbitant fee to release the name back to you.

There are two possible actions you can take. Until Oct. 28, 2011, you can request a domain name block. To do this, you’ll need to have a trademark or service mark that matches the name you’d like to block. There is a one-time fee of $225, and the block will remain in effect for at least 10 years. Once the block is in place, no one can register the trademark.xxx, and the block is not publicly traceable back to your credit union.

The downside of the first option is that you do need a valid trademark or service mark, and it needs to match the name you would like to block. If, for example, your credit union does not have a trademarked name or would like to prevent registration of variations on its name, this option will not be fully protective.

The second action would be to register the .xxx name yourself. The registry opens on Dec. 6, 2011, and registrations will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. The registration will have to be renewed annually, and it would be clearly traceable back to your credit union. The downside here is that you may not be able to register your name if you don’t act quickly, and as mentioned, you’ll have to renew it every year.

 

Questions? Contact Compliance at 800.546.4465 or compliance@nwcua.org.

Posted in Compliance.