The .XXX Top-Level Domain – At A Glance

Earlier this year, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) created a .XXX top-level domain (TLD) to be used on behalf of the adult entertainment community. As can be expected, many brand owners protested the planned roll-out of a sponsored .XXX TLD, and remain concerned over the impact that this new TLD may have to their brands and online enforcement activities. Beyond the adult entertainment community itself, certain advocacy groups have embraced the new TLD for sexually explicit material, claiming it will be easier for parents and others to restrict access to the entire TLD on certain computers. Indeed, there has even been some discussion on Capitol Hill to require all websites that contain “material that is harmful to minors” to operate from a single TLD, such as .XXX.

THE “SUNRISE A” PERIOD: ICM Registry, the company behind .XXX, has acknowledged that it has already received nearly 900,000 expressions of interest for .XXX domain names during its pre-reservation process. For a period of 52 days commencing on September 7, 2011, and finishing on October 28, 2011, applicants from within the adult entertainment industry (referred to as the “Sponsored Community”) with certain pre-established trademark or domain name rights will have the opportunity to pre-apply for a .XXX during the so-called “Sunrise A” period. Following the Sunrise A period, a “Land Rush” period will run for 18 days where other businesses from the adult entertainment industry will have premium access to remaining .XXX web addresses, following which general availability will ensue.

THE OPT-OUT “SUNRISE B” PERIOD: During this same 52-day period (September 7 ― October 28), brand owners that are not in the adult Sponsored Community may elect to file a “Reservation Request” to opt-out of .XXX and block third parties from acquiring a .XXX domain name that incorporates the brand owner’s mark. Names reserved in this so-called “Sunrise B” period will resolve to a standard page that indicates that the name is not available.

Opting Out of the .XXX sTLD ― Frequently Asked Questions

When does opt-out Sunrise B period open? Trademark owners who wish to opt-out must submit their Reservation Requests between September 7 – October 28, 2011.

Who is eligible to opt out? Any owner of a registered mark (of national or international effect) issued prior to September 1, 2011. [Tip: If your mark is not yet registered, consider an expedited filing in an international jurisdiction that issues registrations within 2-3 weeks.]

Can I also submit requests to block variations of my mark? No, the domain name sought to be blocked must correspond to the entire text of a registered trademark.

What info must be included in an opt-out request? Basic trademark particulars must be provided, such as the mark, registration number and date, designated class(es), the country or region, and the status of the entity submitting the request.

What will it cost and do I have to pay something each year? $200-$300 per registered mark, assessed as a one-time fee.

Where exactly do I “opt-out”? Although ICM Registry administers the .XXX string, individual domain registrars – such as Network Solutions – will handle both the registration and opt-out processes for .XXX starting on September 7.

Will my company be identified as having registered a .XXX? No, the name “ICM Registry” will appear in WHOIS records.

What will the webpage for the blocked domain look like? A standard informational page will appear displaying a notice to the effect that “the domain is not available for registration.”

What if someone submits a Sunrise A request for the same mark in my Sunrise B request? If both Sunrise A and Sunrise B applications are filed for the same mark, both parties will be notified. If a Sunrise A applicant refuses to voluntarily withdraw its application, the “tie” will go to the to the qualified Sunrise A applicant (as a sponsored adult community member).

What if I miss the Sunrise B period? If a brand owner fails, or is not in a position, to take advantage of the Sunrise B period, a brand owner may always file for a “non-resolving” name once the “general availability” period begins on December 6.

Is there a conflict resolution process? Yes. The existing Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) will apply, as well as a new procedure called the Rapid Evaluation Service (RES). Although full details have not yet been released, the RES is expected to provide a 48-hour remedy for situations involving clear abuse of well-known marks and names.