updated 11/21/2011 12:49:54 PM ET 2011-11-21T17:49:54

A planned rollout of ".xxx" Web addresses has not gone down well with the porn industry. Now two Internet porn firms responsible for Playboy online content and hardcore porn movies have filed lawsuit against the .xxx registry operator for "anti-competitive practices" supposedly intended to squeeze extra money out of the industry.

The adult-industry firms say that they have been forced to begin buying up .xxx top-level domains (TLD) as defensive registrations to prevent cyber-squatters from exploiting their trademarks and domain names. They also allege that ICM Registry (ICM), the .xxx registry operator, has charged higher-than-competitive prices at $60 for each .xxx TLD – about 10 times more expensive than similar TLDs.

Both ICM Registry and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) have been targeted in the lawsuit brought by Manwin Licensing International and Digital Playground Inc.

"This is a monumental case impacting the entire business community and the Internet ecosystem," said Fabian Thylmann, managing partner of Manwin, in a statement. "It uncovers a pernicious monopoly at the very heart of the Internet."

That's not the view of Stuart Lawley, chairman and president of ICM Registry, who envisions most porn firms eventually migrating from the familiar ".com" to .xxx domain names. He previously described such a move as a win for both consumers and producers of adult content, as well as allowing people to more easily avoid porn-related sites.

But the adult-content industry had expressed skepticism or opposition to the .xxx idea even before it took effect, and complained about a lack of competitive bidding to run the .xxx registry. The lawsuit points out that ICM Registry expects to earn $200 million in annual profits from selling ".xxx" TLDs at its current prices.

"Ending anticompetitive practices by ICM and ICANN will not only protect our business, but help other companies compelled to pay a fee to keep their names unassociated with a .xxx designation," Thylmann said.

Thylmann's firm, Manwin, owns domain names and trademarks such as,,,, operates all Playboy online content, and runs Playboy Television under the "Playboy Plus Entertainment" label. Digital Playground represents one of the industry's biggest porn-movie studios.

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