Trademark Owners Can Block the Adult Entertainment Industry’s Use of Their Marks as Domain Names

ICANN, the international non-profit with decision-making power over domain name registration, approved a plan to launch hundreds of new top-level domains as alternatives to the popular and impacted .com. The most contentious of the new domains is .XXX, designed for the adult entertainment industry.

Only individuals and businesses operating in or serving the adult entertainment industry will be permitted to register .XXX domains. However, many non-adult oriented businesses have expressed concern about the possibility of members of this sponsored community registering their trademarks in the triple-X domain, resulting in a new domain of In order to address this concern, the registrar of the .XXX domain is providing a limited window in which trademark holders outside of the adult entertainment industry may request that their marks be excluded from registration. By registering during the registry’s Sunrise B time period between September 7, 2011 and October 28, 2011, most owners of registered trademarks can block the use of their marks as domain names for a period of ten years.

To qualify for registration and blocking, a mark must be nationally registered (either through the United States Patent & Trademark Office or in a foreign country), and the brand owner must complete and submit an application and pay a registration fee. If a registered mark for a non-adult brand is submitted and an identical adult brand exists and seeks registration during the same time period, the adult brand owner will be permitted to register the domain if it meets all other application requirements.

Prior to the launch of this new domain it is impossible to say how popular the triple-X domain space will be, but adult entertainment makes up a large portion of current internet sites, searches and content. Trademark owners should evaluate their degree of concern about their marks being registered as .XXX domains, as well as the degree of harm that such a domain could do to the mark’s reputation, even if obviously unrelated to the business.