Yesterday marked the sunrise launch of the .porn and .adult generic top-level domains (gTLDs), which join .xxx in the top-level domain name space as gTLDs targeted mainly at online purveyors of adult entertainment. As with .xxx, the introduction of these adult-themed gTLDs presents yet another annoyance for trademark owners already fatigued by the weekly onslaught of gTLDs introduced over the past couple of years pursuant to ICANN’s expansion of the domain name space. Also as with .xxx, brand owners have some opportunities to defensively register .adult and .porn domain names early in the life of these new gTLDs.
ICM Registry, the operator of this titillating trifecta of gTLDs, intended that trademark owners who secured “blocking” registrations of .xxx domains would receive free matching registrations for corresponding domains in the .porn and .adult. (and the forthcoming .sex) gTLDs. However, this plan fell through, and brand owners must once again pony up registration fees. They generally have three options prior to general availability of .porn and .adult domains.
General availability of .porn and .adult domains opens on June 4, 2015, when domains can be registered by anyone on a first-come, first-served basis. Certainly, trademark owners — and especially the owners of famous brands — concerned about potentially harmful third-party .porn and .adult registrations should consider registering their brand.porn and brand.adult domains during one of the two sunrise phases, if they’re eligible, and if not then at some point thereafter.
While .porn and .adult are less in-your-face than .xxx, they are arguably more likely to give brand owners headaches. Unlike .xxx, registration in the these new gTLDs isn’t limited to purveyors of adult entertainment — they are available to all. Further, both .porn and .adult have meanings beyond sex. “Porn” is often used colloquially to refer to enticing and “explicit” visual presentation of things other than naked humans, such as food and cars, and “adult” has widespread applicability beyond pornography. For all of these reasons, there’s a good chance these domains could be more popular than .xxx, and they are probably more likely to be abused or at least registered and used in a manner that may conflict with trademarks.
The .Sex gTLD is expected to launch this fall, and the same registration options for brand owners should be available at that time.