The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which governs the domain name system for the Internet, approved the September 7, 2011, launch of the controversial .XXX top-level domain. The new domain is intended to provide the adult entertainment industry with the opportunity to deliver content through Web sites making use of the apt .XXX designation.

Don’t think your client or business is interested in registering a .XXX domain name? Consider what would happen if an adult entertainment provider decided to use your client’s or business’s brand as a .XXX domain name. The good news is that brand owners with registered trademarks can block their brands from being registered as .XXX domain names.

Here’s what brand owners need to know:

The .XXX domain name will launch in three separate phases: (1) a Sunrise Period, for brand owners to register or block .XXX domain names; (2) a Landrush, for nonbrand-owning members of the adult industry to register .XXX domain names; and (3) a General Availability period, for anyone to register .XXX domain names on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Sunrise Period for brand owners will run from September 7, 2011, to October 28, 2011. It will consist of two sub-Sunrise Periods, which will run concurrently: Sunrise A, for brand owners in the adult industry, and Sunrise B, for brand owners who are not members of the adult industry.

Sunrise A

Between September 7, 2011, and October 28, 2011, members of the adult industry with registered trademarks or that own a domain name in another generic top-level domain (e.g., .COM) are eligible to apply to register their registered trademarks or domain names as a .XXX domain name.

Sunrise B

Between September 7, 2011, and October 28, 2011, brand owners with registered trademarks can “block” their marks from being registered as .XXX domain names.

  • Brand owners cannot register a .XXX domain name. Rather, they can “block” the .XXX domain name, which removes it from the pool of domain names available for registration in the future phases.
  • The cost to “block” a .XXX domain name is $225 per domain name for a 10-year period.
  • The .XXX domain name submitted for “blocking” must match exactly the brand owner’s registered trademark.
  • If a .XXX domain name is applied for in Sunrise A by an adult industry member and is also the target of a blocking application by a brand owner in Sunrise B, priority will be given to the Sunrise A applicant, and the Sunrise B applicant will be notified.
  • All applications submitted during the Sunrise Period will be treated as having arrived at the same time.

It is anyone’s guess whether .XXX will be the “.COM of adult Web sites.” In the meantime, consider whether to stop your brand from becoming one.