Companies Buy Up .XXX Domains To Protect Brands

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Businesses will have until 28 October to buy a .xxx domain for their trademark or opt out altogether

Brand managers from outside the porn industry are rushing to register .xxx domains – created to flag sexually explicit material on the Internet – as the deadline for safeguarding their trademarks within the .xxx registry draws near.

ICM Registry, the company behind the .xxx top-level domain, has extended its so-called “Sunrise” period from 30 days to 50 days, during which time it will receive and process applications from existing domain name and trademark owners who have applied for control of their brand within the .xxx registry.

“We believe the Sunrise period offers businesses a comprehensive rights protection mechanism where they can protect their brands and trademarks,” said Stuart Lawley, CEO of ICM Registry. “We are advising businesses to either opt-in or opt-out and want to give them the best opportunity to do so at the launch of our new TLD. Given the high level of interest in the domain, we see that many businesses wish to be proactive in avoiding any brand conflicts.”

Extended Sunrise before Land Rush

The Sunrise period will commence on 7 September 2011 and finish on 28 October 2011. ICM Registry said it had been extended due to the volume of interest; the company reportedly received nearly 900,000 expressions of interest for .xxx domain names during its pre-reservation process.

Brand managers also have the option during the Sunrise period to pay a one-off fee, which will ensure that their brand is never used within the .xxx registry. After that, a “Land Rush” period will run for 18 days, where businesses from the adult entertainment industry will have premium access to remaining .xxx web addresses.

General availability opens on 7 December 2011, and will allow members of the sponsored community to acquire .xxx domains on a “first come, first served” basis.

Under an agreement between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and ICM Registry, ICM will use a portion of the fees collected to fund efforts designed to keep children away from online pornography.

“We wanted to take an innovative approach to the launch of .xxx and show best practice at all stages including investing in a global awareness campaign,” said Lawley. “While we believe the .xxx will satisfy the needs of the sponsored community, we recognise there is also an audience who would like to opt-out and safeguard their IP prior to the domain going live.”

Contentious issue

The .xxx domain was given the green light by ICANN earlier this year – in spite of warnings that it would become “the red light district of the Internet”.

The TLD’s activation drew the support of 16 of ICANN’s board members, but none of the governments participating in ICANN’s policy process supported the plan. The issue has also divided those in the sexually explicit media industry, with some fearing the domain will make it easier for sites to be censored.

“This decision represents a difficult, careful balance, weighing the extensive community advice both for and against,” ICANN stated at the time.

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