Earlier this year, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names) approved the new .XXX top level domain (TLD) for the adult entertainment area of the Internet. With this upcoming launch of .XXX, we encourage brand owners to take advantage of available schemes to protect their brands from inadvertent association with the adult entertainment industry.

September 7 to October 28 is the initial "Sunrise" phase of the .XXX roll out. During this period, sponsored adult community members, through the "Sunrise A" program, will be able to register .XXX domain names for trademarks they own and for domain names they own under another TLD (such as .com or .net). During Sunrise A, the owner of adultservices.com would be able to register the domain "adultservices.xxx." And, the owner of the trademark "Adult Entertainment" would be able to register the domain "adultentertainment.xxx."

During this same period, under the "Sunrise B" program, trademark owners outside the adult entertainment industry can block the registration of .XXX URLs corresponding to their registered trademarks. To apply for a "Sunrise B" opt-out for an .XXX domain, you must own a registered trademark and pay a one-time fee of $200-$400 per mark. Please note that in order to block an .XXX domain name, your trademark must contain the exact text of the URL. For example, the owner of the trademark "Lion" for jeans will be able to block the registration of "Lion.xxx" but not "Lionjeans.xxx." If you wish to ensure that no one uses any .XXX domain names that are near your mark but not covered by your trademark, we can assist with other options, discussed below.

Starting November 8, 2011, the "Landrush" period, members of the adult community will be able to apply for any .XXX domain name, with auctions taking place for competing registrations. A period of general availability will then begin December 6, 2011, during which anyone can apply to register an .XXX domain name on a first-come first-served basis. If you don't own a trademark registration but wish to protect your brand from potential use by an adult entertainment provider, you can purchase any .XXX URL of concern at this time. Or, if your trademark does not include the exact text of all URLs connected to your brand (e.g., "Lionjeans.xxx"), you may apply to register any .XXX URL of concern.

After the Sunrise period closes on October 28, your trademark registration will afford you no special preemptive rights in the .XXX domain registration process. So, we urge trademark owners to take advantage of the opt-out scheme and block the .XXX URL corresponding to your mark during the Sunrise B period. If you are not able to block all .XXX domain names of concern during Sunrise B, we advise you to act quickly to register all relevant .XXX URLs as soon as the general availability period begins. We can help with the process or send you more information about it.