It will soon be possible to register domain names ending in ‘.xxx’ (for instance, The .xxx domain name suffix is designed to cater specifically for websites related to the adult industry. It is intended to make it easier for law enforcement authorities and parents of young children to identify and filter objectionable online content by centralising the location of adult-related websites.

What does this mean for your brands?

The release of .xxx domain names may have undesirable effects on your brands. For instance, a cyber-squatter may attempt to register your trade mark as a ‘.xxx’ domain name in order to extract payment from you. Alternatively, a provider of goods or services in the adult industry whose trade mark is similar or identical to yours may seek to register it as a .xxx domain name. This could create confusion (at the very least) for web browsers who search for your business online, but are instead directed to a website of questionable content.

What can you do?

From 7 September to 28 October 2011, trade mark owners will have a window in which to reserve their trade marks, ie to block third parties from registering them as .xxx domain names. The fees for the ‘defensive registration’ process have not yet been finalised but will be determined ahead of the 7 September deadline.

If you are interested in protecting your trade mark(s) from the .xxx domain name scheme, please let us know. We would be happy to talk further with you about the costs and implications of this process.