New Internet Domains Are Coming … What You Should Do


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the entity responsible for management of the Internet domain name system (DNS), has approved major changes in the system of top-level domains (TLDs) that will lead to the approval of potentially thousands of new domains. (Please see our June 22, 2011, Advisory.) ICANN has also given final approval to a sponsored domain for the adult entertainment industry, .xxx.

Historically, only a limited number of general use TLDs have been used across the Web, the best known of which are .com, .net, and .org. Country code TLDs also exist, many of which also have been used generally without regard to the nationality of the registrant (e.g., .tv). As discussed in our June Advisory, ICANN’s action will permit new applicants to propose almost any name or brand to become a top-level domain (e.g., .google or .pizza), and it will begin taking applications in January 2012. The sponsored .xxx domain will open this fall, but use of the .xxx TLD is limited to members of the “Sponsored Community” who provide adult-oriented content and related services.1

While adult-oriented website operators may be interested in reserving spots in the .xxx TLD, other companies (principally, non-adult-oriented companies) may be just as eager to prevent their marks from being used in that domain or otherwise associated with adult content. Under policies adopted by ICM Registry, those who own registered trademarks will have an opportunity to reserve .xxx domain names to prevent others from using their marks in the .xxx TLD.

Sunrise periods. The .xxx TLD will be operated by ICM Registry, although specific domain name reservations will be made through registrars authorized by ICM. Beginning Sept. 7, 2011, there will be a 30-day “sunrise” period during which adult-oriented website operators will be able to register their marks and domain names in the .xxx TLD. During the so-called “Sunrise A” period, each member of the Sponsored Community can reserve as many as 10,000 .xxx domain names, so long as they match either a registered mark or an existing domain name owned by that entity in another TLD such as .com. Existing domain names must have been registered prior to February 1, 2010 to qualify for Sunrise A registration.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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