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IP Law News
One thing all Internet domain names (e.g., yourbusiness.com) have in common is the necessity of a top level domain, or “TLD,” such as .com, .net, .us, or any of over 250 other country-code and generic TLD extensions. As of September 2011, a new TLD, .xxx, has been added. The new .xxx TLD is, as the name suggests, a TLD dedicated to Internet-based adult entertainment. It is a “sponsored” TLD, meaning the public at large cannot register .xxx domain names, only members of the “Sponsored Community,” namely, persons and entities affiliated with providing Internet-based adult entertainment content. But this by no means guarantees that a trademark owned by a non-adult entertainment provider is safe from becoming part of a .xxx domain name. The same force that has driven piracy of domain names for years—the ability of high value trademarks to draw Internet traffic—will no doubt drive adult entertainment providers to try to register high value trademarks as .xxx domain names. An adult entertainment provider might thus try to register a .xxx domain name featuring your valuable trademark simply because of its notoriety, hoping to co-opt the fame of your mark into increased traffic to its website. Cognizant of this risk, ICANN, the governing body for Internet domain names, has placed additional conditions on the initial allocation of .xxx domain names. Chief among these is the opportunity for non-adult entertainment providers to reserve their trademarks during a “sunrise” period that is presently underway or, failing that, to register them later as non-resolving domain names incapable of linking to websites. In either instance, you can act now to decrease the likelihood that your trademarks will appear in .xxx domain names and thereby link your mark and your company to adult entertainment.