A decision by ICANN, the organization that runs the internet domain name system, has added .xxx as a new top-level domain for pornography sites.  You may be asking how this applies to you.  Well, unfortunately the pornography industry has used legitimate trademarks (and misspellings) for years in order to get internet “hits” and redirect people to their websites.  With the new .xxx domain, there is a real potential for your business’ trademarked name to be registered as a .xxx (e.g., .adultcontent.xxx).

There is a “Sunrise Period,” which runs from September 7 through October 28, 2011, when companies in the adult entertainment industry can apply for the new .xxx domains.  During this same time frame, trademark owners who are concerned that their trademarks may be used as a second-level domain name in this registry (e.g., mybusiness.xxx) for pornography can take steps in advance to block the registration of their marks for use as .xxx domains (“Sunrise B”).

Under the Sunrise B Reservation Request program, trademark owners can apply to reserve their registered trademarks in the .xxx registry.  You do not actually register your trademark as a domain.xxx; rather, you register to block a third party from doing so.

To qualify for the Sunrise B period “blocking reservation,” you must own a valid trademark registration as of September 1, 2011, and pay a registrar fee of approximately $200 for a ten-year block.  Once your trademark is recorded, the .xxx registry will not register any second-level domain name that is identical to your registered trademark.  It will not protect against misspellings and variations of your trademarks; however if that occurs, you would still be able to sue them in court.