In the latest domain-name headache for brand owners, .xxx has been approved by ICANN as a new generic top-level domain, on the same plane as .com, .net, .org, .mobi, .info, etc., but this one is for adult content.
The adult entertainment industry, trademark holders, and even some countries objected to the creation of the domain. Although no adult content is currently available in the domain, several countries have already announced their intention to block the .xxx domain.
As with other new top-level domains, there will be a "sunrise" period in which rights holders can reserve or block in advance of the general sale to the public.
The first sunrise track will be available for existing trademark holders within the adult entertainment industry. The second sunrise track will be available for grandfathering in operators of adult websites that were registered prior to February 2010 in other domains (e.g., .com, .biz, .uk, etc.).
The third sunrise track is designed for trademark holders who are outside of the adult entertainment industry. This sunrise is expected to open September 7, 2011 and close October 28, 2011. Trademark holders may reserve names within the .xxx domain to prevent registration by others. The domain name block has been advertised as lasting for ten years (the length of the registry's contract with ICANN) with no additional fees to pay in subsequent years. Visitors to a blocked domain name will receive a webpage that indicates that the name is reserved through the ICM Registry Rights Protection Program.
The fees are high, roughly $200 to $300 per blocked domain, but companies with multiple brands may be able to negotiate a discount.
Alternatively, brand owners may wish to ignore the sunrise period and use the Uniform Dispute Resolution Procedure or other remedies if someone does register and use their brand in a .xxx in a way which causes harm, tarnishment or confusion to the brand.