September 2011 will mark the formal launch of the recently approved .XXX domain. While the .XXX domain is targeted primarily at the adult entertainment industry, companies and brand owners operating outside the adult entertainment industry must be aware of how to protect their trademarks within the new domain.

Before the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved the .XXX domain in March 2011, momentum had been building to move adult content web sites into a separate domain. Advocates argued that such a domain would make it easier for individuals and institutions to filter or block adult content while at the same time preserving the rights of those who wish to view such content. Although adult content web sites are not required to register in the .XXX domain, many operators of such web sites have already started pre-reserving second level names within the .XXX registry.

ICM Registry will act as registrar charged with technical operation of the .XXX domain and is offering two important services for brand owners. First, ICM is currently offering pre-reservation, located at http://domains.icmregistry.com, which allows any interested party to reserve names free of charge. Pre-registration is beneficial for brand owners because ICM will apprise parties that reserve names of important deadlines applicable to future phases of this domain launch.

In September 2011, ICM will implement a “sunrise” period allowing rights owners to block certain trademarks from being registered in the .XXX space. The names will resolve to a brief informational page and no information regarding the party that requested the block will be available.

To qualify for the sunrise, applicants must:

  • Be the registered owner, licensee or assignee of eligible trademarks;
  • Pay a one-time fee estimated to be $US200-300 per blocked trademark.

In addition, the trademark must be registered in at least one jurisdiction in which the brand owner engages in actual commercial activities under the mark. Further, defensive registrations are only available if the domain name being opted out of exactly matches the entire text of a registered word mark or textual component of word and logo compound marks.

The sunrise period will last approximately 30 days. We encourage brand owners to pre-reserve their marks now and be ready to block defensively their marks upon launch of the sunrise. Doing so is the only way to prevent your brand from being associated with the .XXX domain