General availability of .xxx sponsored top level domains

Wednesday 14th December 2011

On 6 December 2011, .xxx sponsored top level domains became generally available for registration.

The .xxx scheme, approved by ICANN and administered by ICM Registry LLC, passed through three early registration phases.  These earlier phases allowed for pre-registration by those who own adult industry trade marks, and blocking of certain domain names by those who own trade marks outside of the adult industry.

Latest developments

New Zealand companies that have recently blocked their trade marks from registration include TradeMe, the All Blacks and Air New Zealand.  In the US, several Universities have taken similar measures to protect their names, including the University of Kansas, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Indiana, and Penn State. 

A reported 80,000 domain names were taken off the market prior to general availability and now display the message “This domain has been reserved from registration.”  This means that others will be prevented from using the blocked .xxx domain names and thereby tarnishing any good will or damaging reputation.

ICM has also removed over 4,000 domain names relating to public figures, such as obama.xxx.

For those who missed out on the opportunity to block certain .xxx domain names from registration, domains are now available for public registration.  ICM has reported almost one million daily visits to the buy.xxx website, which shows where and how .xxx domain names can be purchased.

Advice for businesses

Businesses outside of the adult industry should consider whether others may wish to misuse their brand or company names to attract users to a .xxx website.  For instance, it has been reported that domain names such as nzpolice.xxx remain open for registration and potential misuse.  On the other hand, the domain name bnz.xxx has reportedly been purchased, and not by the Bank of New Zealand.

Registering a .xxx domain may now be the only way to ensure that someone else does not use your brand, company, or personal name in an inappropriate way.  Registration costs can be as low as NZ$100 per year, and businesses and public figures looking to protect their names should weigh the small annual cost against the risk of potential misuse.

Those within the adult industry should also consider the advantages of moving from other domain names, such as .com or .net, to .xxx.  The new .xxx domain names allow for clear identification that one’s website contains adult content and give a level of legitimacy to the adult industry as a whole.  All .xxx domain names are also scanned daily for viruses, making them comparatively safer and more attractive to potential users.

If you would like more information or help with registering a .xxx domain name, please contact us.  Baldwins offers a full range of domain name services, including WHOIS searches, strategy advice, registration and domain name complaints.

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