After several years of controversy, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has approved the sTLD (sponsored top-level domain) “.XXX,” specifically for use by members of the adult entertainment industry. Accordingly, trademark owners in fields other than this industry are advised to take early measures to block their trademarks from being registered and used in relation to adult content.

ICANN has chosen the ICM Registry (www.icmregistry.com) to administer and maintain the .XXX sTLDs. The ICM Registry recently announced the official launch process that will consist of the following periods: Sunrise (beginning September 7, 2011), Landrush (beginning October 24, 2011), and General Availability (beginning December 6, 2011).  

Sunrise Period

The Sunrise Period is geared toward allowing verified members of the adult entertainment industry that own trademark registrations or other domain registrations, as well as other owners of trademark registrations issued prior to September 7, 2011, the opportunity to either register their “trademark.xxx” domain (in the case of members of the adult entertainment industry), or to block the corresponding “trademark.xxx” domain from being registered by third parties for use in relation to adult content (in the case of trademark owners not in the adult entertainment industry). The Sunrise Period will begin September 7, 2011 and will last 30 days.

There will be two types of Sunrise applications. “Sunrise A” applications will be available to verified members of the adult entertainment industry, who can prove ownership of either a national trademark registration or another top level domain, for registration of the .XXX domain identical to their respective registered trademark or prior domain. “Sunrise B” applications will be available to owners of trademark registrations who are not members of the adult entertainment industry and who wish to block from registration the .XXX domain identical to their respective trademark.

If a Sunrise B application is filed for a domain and no Sunrise A applications are filed for that same domain, the domain will be blocked and unavailable for registration. In the event that a Sunrise A and Sunrise B application are filed for the same domain, the Sunrise A applicant will be notified of the Sunrise B applicant’s objection to its attempted registration and given an opportunity to withdraw its application. If it opts to complete its registration of the domain, it will do so with actual notice and will not be able to claim lack of notice in a subsequent dispute proceeding.

Upon close of the Sunrise Period, the registry will review all applications, validate trademark ownership, confirm status within the adult entertainment industry, and resolve all issues arising from competing applications, etc.  

Landrush Period

The Landrush Period will begin on October 24, 2011 and will last for 10 days. During this period, members of the adult entertainment industry that did not qualify for the Sunrise Period (i.e., members who do not own trademark registrations or qualifying domain registration), will have the opportunity to apply for any domains not already registered or blocked during the Sunrise Period.  

General Availability

Beginning December 6, 2011, .XXX domains will become available to the general public. However, while anyone will be able to register a .XXX domain, only verified members of the adult entertainment industry will be allowed to use the domains.  

Given the above, non-adult-industry trademark owners are advised to participate in the Sunrise Period and attempt to have their trademarks blocked from registration and subsequent use in relation to adult content.