Brands urged to safeguard .xxx domains

"Sun rise" period extended to quell fears of cyber squatting.

XXX neon sign

Brand owners are being urged to register .xxx domains, even if their businesses are not involved in adult content.

Companies can register their trademarks such as company or product names to "protect their trademarks ahead of wider availability" of the .xxx domain. The .xxx domain, designed to "signpost" adult content and services online, was approved by ICANN, the internet domain authority, earlier this year.

The .xxx domain will be launched in three phases. The first, sun rise, will last for 50 days and allow companies already operating a trademark or domain in the adult entertainment business to register their domains as a .xxx. This will be followed by an 18-day "land rush", where adult businesses will be able to register remaining .xxx domains for a premium. After that, the domains will go on general release.

However, ICM Registry, the company behind the .xxx domain, has now put back the sunrise period to 7 September. This, says Stuart Lawley, its CEO, will help non-adult trademark owners to opt in, or out, of .xxx.

Rights owners will be able to exempt their trade marks from the .xxx registry during the sun rise period, and there will be no annual fees, just a one-off exemption fee, for the service.

According Lawley, ICM Registry wants to avoid brand conflicts. Brand managers, for their part, run the risk that third parties will register .xxx versions of their trade marks once the sun rise and land rush periods are over. This, in turn, could find consumers redirected to adult content when searching for a brand name.

"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," said Lawley. "Given the high level of interest in the domain, we see that many businesses wish to be proactive in avoiding any brand conflicts."

Last month, ICANN announced that extensive liberalisation of top-level domains.

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