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What if there was a Web domain called harvard.porn, or harvard.adult?

Thanks to the tech-savvy brains at the Cambridge university, that’s not going to happen.

In an effort to keep outsiders from corrupting their trademarks, area colleges are snapping up controversial domain names like “.porn” and “.adult” before they are available to the public for purchase this summer.

At Harvard, officials said they pre-registered the rights to certain domains, to avoid being associated with unrelated websites that would put their namesake at risk.

“Like many other trademark owners, Harvard has chosen to register some of the newly available domain names so they cannot be misused,” said Harvard spokesman Jeff Neal in a statement.

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Other trademark owners include pop singer Taylor Swift.

Neal would not say which domains were secured by the university, but a search on ICM Registry, where people can check on .porn and .adult domain availability, harvard.porn and harvard.adult have already been reserved.

Universities and businesses have a small window of opportunity to claim these types of domains before anyone else can.

After June 4, the domains will be publicly available for purchase if they have not been pre-registered.

“Registering the domains now should allow them to protect their brand [and] names,” said Ron Zwerin, director of marketing at Educause, a nonprofit that monitors the higher education industry.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which regulates the suffixes, releases new domains for registries to sell each month.

ICANN was in charge of setting up the “sunrise period” so trademarked brands can keep the controversial domains from falling into the wrong hands.

But with so many popping up — the latest being .sucks — it can be a challenge to keep pace, said Zwerin.

Michael Bourque, vice president for information technology at Boston College, said these domain rollouts are a headache for college administrators, because it forces them to remain vigilant in an effort to thwart the misuse of the school’s trademark.

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“We have to monitor for which new top-level domains have been granted, and we have to make a request to reserve them. We have to make sure that our trademarks are protected,” he said.

Beyond the .porn and .adult suffixes, which BC has filed to reserve, Bourque said they track names that aren’t trademarked, but could be loosely tied to the school.

“We need to be sure that anything else that might closely resemble us is not being represented in a domain that doesn’t reflect well upon the university,” he said. “An uncontrolled spread of top-level domains is problematic.”

If a brand misses out on securing a domain, they would have to go through ICANN’s “dispute resolution process.”

But that can be tricky, said Stuart Lawley, CEO of ICM Registry, in a statement.

“This strategy has some inherent risks,” he said.


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.