Firms Warned Again About Impending .XXX Domain

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The clock is ticking for companies keen to shield their brands from the .xxx domain name

The new .xxx top level domain – expected to become the Internet’s red light district – is just weeks away from launch, and today firms were warned to reserve their trademarks or risk being hijacked by the porn industry.

The Cloud Industry Forum and the Federation Against Software Theft have advised companies to take advantage of the “Sunrise” period in which they can permanently protect registered trademarks.

ICM Registry, the company behind the sponsored top level domain (TLD), is allowing trademark owners to reserve domain names from 7 September to 28 October before opening the market for general sale.

Dawn Osborne, Chairman of FLAG, the Legal Advisory arm of FAST, said that being slow to react to the ‘sunrise‘ period could cost organisations dearly and urged them to be proactive.

When the sun goes down

Osborne said: “We are advising non-adult industry businesses to protect their brands, reputations and trademarks from any malicious or inappropriate activity by blocking access to the .xxx domain name that would bear their name.

“If they do it initially during the sunrise period it is permanent subject to the terms and conditions of the ICM Registry. If they wait beyond Sunrise, they have to do it annually at extra cost.”

Generally, it will cost around £200 in a one-off payment to reserve a domain name and remove it from the market during the Sunrise period.

After the Sunrise, proceedings enter a “Landrush” period when valuable domain names will become available only to the remaining sponsored community. Following that, a first-come-first-served general availability period begins on 7 December.

From then on, anyone outside of the porn industry fortunate enough to snatch their domain name from the open market will be liable for ongoing monthly payments .

Bone of contention

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”.

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.

The TLD’s activation was supported by 16 of ICANN’s board members but none of the governments participating in its policy process. 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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