Highlights

On June 20, 2011, ICANN approved the process for applying for new Top Level Domains (TLD). The new process would allow brand-specific (e.g., xyz.BRAND) or generic (xyz.cars or xyz.bank) TLDs.

A bidding process will decide conflicting TLD applications.

Applications for new generic TLDs will be accepted from January 12 to April 12, 2012.

Dot triple-X, or .xxx, was allowed earlier this year by ICANN to be a new TLD for the adult entertainment industry.

Brand Name TLDs

At its meeting in Singapore on June 20, 2011, the Board of Directors of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved the process for applying for new Top Level Domains (TLD). A TLD is the designator to the right of the period (.) in a domain name. For example, .com is the TLD in CompanyName.com. The new process would allow applicants to apply to operate a TLD registry in which the new TLD is a brand (e.g., xyz.BRAND) or a generic (xyz.cars or xyz.bank). It is anticipated that TLDs that are brands (.BRAND) could be set up to essentially be closed to other applicants and would therefore be a captive domain for the brand holder. Generic TLD (gTLD) operators will likely be expected to operate the new gTLD on a more even-handed basis.

The application fee is approximately $185,000 per new TLD and the overall expected cost for an application is anticipated to range between $500,000 and $1,000,000. There would also be an annual cost for ongoing operation of the TLD registrar. Applications for new gTLDs will be accepted from January 12, 2012, to April 12, 2012. In the case of conflicting applications (e.g., two or more applications for .bank) there is expected to be a bidding process to award the TLD.

The ICANN Web site provides more detailed information. There is a link from the ICANN site to the gTLD Applicant Guidebook published by ICANN for interested applicants.  

Triple-X TLD

This new TLD, dot triple-X or .xxx, was allowed earlier this year by ICANN to be a new TLD for the adult entertainment industry. The registration for names under this TLD will be administered by ICM Registry. Registration for active dot triple-X domain names will be open only to members of the adult entertainment industry and those supplying related products and services.

Due to concerns raised by trademark holders, ICM Registry has set up a phased approach in registering domain names that will help trademark holders outside of the adult entertainment industry protect their marks. Under the phased approach, an initial "Sunrise" phase will allow trademark owners from outside the adult entertainment industry who do not want to register a name with the .xxx extension, but would like to block others from registering the name, to pay a one-time fee to register the domain name so that it is blocked for use (Sunrise B phase). Registration under the Sunrise B phase will not result in a conventional domain name registration, but will instead result in a registration where access to the URL results in a page indicating that the domain has been reserved from use through ICM Registry's policies. Once a name has been blocked, it cannot be unblocked and used as a conventional domain name without first being made generally available.

Companies wanting to protect their trademarks from being used in association with a .xxx TLD should use this initial Sunrise B phase to register names that correspond to their trademarks to block the registration by others. Registration in the Sunrise B phase to block an active .xxx domain requires a registered trademark.

Contact a domain name registrar (such as Network Solutions) during the Sunrise B phase to protect a trademark from being associated with a .xxx TLD. The Sunrise B phase is expected to start in September 2011 and last for 30 days. Some domain name registrars are offering free pre-registration for the Sunrise B phase, with the registration fee due at the time of registration. The Sunrise phase will be followed by a period of open registration for members of the adult entertainment industry (Landrush phase). General availability will begin after the Landrush phase. The one-time fee for registration in the Sunrise B phase is expected to be between $200-$300.