Did HuffPo Just Get ‘Sex-Squatted’?

Well, that was predictable. The chance to buy a “.xxx” domain is now open to the public and already someone appears to have used the opportunity to help themselves to the name of a famous media brand.

This morning, a domain name news site reported that California man Justin Crews purchased the website Huffingtonpost.xxx for between $80 and $100. And according to the site, Domain Name Wire, the man has no ties to HuffPo or its parent company AOL.

This is the first in what no doubt will be a steady drip-drip of stories about various major companies that forget to buy their domain names during a so-called sunrise period that has now expired. The oversight means that Huffington Post (and others) will have to wrest their names back from opportunists who bought the names first.

For those unfamiliar with how the domain business works, the “.xxx” episode is part of an ongoing initiative to expand the number of “dot somethings” that are available for sale. In recent years, the domain name industry has sprawled way beyond the familiar “.com” and “.org” and now offers such gems as “.biz” and “.travel” A slew more are on the way next year.

ICANN, the governing body that approves the names, claims the new domains are a splendid opportunity to develop commerce and the Internet. The companies that are in charge of maintaining the registries of names like them too because they get paid every time one is purchased.

Not everyone is so enthused, however. Many companies don’t see the point of the new names and regard them as little more than a shakedown in which they have to buy the names or else risk having them hijacked. (Does Disney (NYSE: DIS) want another company controlling “Disney.biz” or, worse yet, “Disney.xxx”?)

The expanded domain name system is expected to produce a huge cash windfall for ICANN which also gets paid when a domain is registered.

The “.xxx” domain name episode has already proved great fun for readers and headline writers alike. For brand owners, the situation is not so funny.