Protect Your Brand on the New .XXX Domain
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Protect Your Brand on the New .XXX Domain

As you may have heard, .XXX launched September 7, 2011 for trademark holders and will launch for non-trademark holders, December 6, 2011.

If you’re a small business owner and not selling products or services related to the adult entertainment industry, why should you care? In this article, you will find out what .XXX is intended for, why you should protect your brand and what options are available to you to protect yourself.

What is .XXX

.XXX is a sponsored top-level domain name designed for use by the adult entertainment industry. The Registry (ICM) has been lobbying for years to get this domain name approved and after many years, the ICANN board of directors voted 8 for, 3 against, 4 abstain at board meeting in San Francisco in March 2011.  Advocates of .XXX say it is designed to facilitate online responsibility and best practices for the global online adult entertainment Industry. The intention is that the new domain extension identifies websites with adult content, allowing them to be easily filtered out by internet users who don’t want their children or themselves to see adult content. In addition to identifying adult content, .XXX aims to protect consumers of adult entertainment from threats such as viruses, credit card fraud and identity theft.

On the other hand we know that sex on the Internet is huge business and has been for many years, accounting a massive portion of revenue on the internet per year. Will all of the existing sites self regulate and move to .XXX? -Probably not. Will cybersquatters continue to take advantage of popular brands and trademarks and aim to profit from registering .xxx names? -Probably so.

Time will tell in terms of how .XXX will play out and how successful it will be in segregating adult content but for small businesses, we must all be one step ahead.

Why does .XXX Matter to Small Business?

Cybersquatting (is registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else) and Typosquatting (a variation of cybersquatting; the practice of registering domain names that are misspellings of website addresses) are big business.

Each time a new domain extension launches, businesses around the world and their legal teams rush in to protect company brands and trademarks before cybersquatters do so. Now add in the component of .XXX and potentially pornographic content. While cybersquatters could put objectionable content on any domain extension, .XXX is geared specifically for this. Most companies would not want any association whatsoever with sexually explicit content, so protecting your brand is even more crucial this time around.

Essentially it’s easier and cheaper to register a trademarked domain name with a new triple-x extension than to launch a legal battle over trademark infringement. .XXX is an especially important domain name to defensively secure, because most business owners will not wish to have their brand associated with adult content.

What Are the Steps Small Businesses Should Take to Protect Their Brands?

There are two options for business owners and individuals who are not part of the adult entertainment industry. For the first time in domain history, trademark owners have the ability to pay a one time fee of US $349 (rather than an annual registration/renewal fee) to block their trademarks under .XXX “forever” (or so long as the company owns the trademark and so long as ICM is running the registry and future rules don’t get changed…for now it’s a minimum of 10 years). This process is called Sunrise B: Launched on September 7, 2011, it requires all applications to be submitted by October 28, 2011.

If you or your business do not own a trademark and you want to protect your own name, a brand name, taglines or misspellings of your trademarks or brands, you have the opportunity to pre-register these names under the General Registration process. XXX pre-registrations will be submitted on a first come, first serve basis when General Registration opens on December 6, therefore interested parties are encouraged to pre-register desired names early. Pre-registration costs $129 US and is entirely risk free; unlike some other registrars, Webnames.ca is not charging any additional pre-registration fees.

About Cybele Negris

Cybele Negris is President & Co-Founder of Webnames.ca Inc., Canada's original .CA Registrar and one of the country's leading Internet solutions companies. Services include a full range of domain extensions, domain portfolio management, domain privacy, web hosting, email, SSL certificates, web development and much more. The multi-million dollar company has an impressive client list including many of Canada's top brands and global fortune 500 companies.