Thursday, May 19, 2011

Guest Post: Blocking brands as adult-only domain names tipped for September

Thanks to Emma McBride for this article.

ICM, the registry responsible for the adult-only ".xxx" top level domain name, has just announced that trade mark owners will have a small window of opportunity to proactively block their trade marks from becoming .xxx domain names.

While there is no formal system in place yet, ICM has indicated that it will set up a 30 day 'sunrise' period in September 2011 for brand owners to block their trade marks.

In order to block your trade mark from the space, you will need to own a trade mark registration for the exact trade mark you want to block.  The registration will need to be in force at the time of application, in a national jurisdiction where you carry on business in connection with the trade mark.

Because you will need a trade mark registration, owners of unregistered trade marks will not be able to block their trade marks from being registered in the adult space.

Many companies and organisations, especially those that don’t want to be associated with this internet space, such as children’s entertainment companies, are expected to take advantage of this opportunity.

A fee will apply - which will comprise a baseline fee charged by the responsible registry, ICM - plus a service fee charged by frontline domain name registries that will handle the individual brand owner’s request.  While nobody has set any prices yet, fees are likely to be at least US$300-600 for each trade mark you want to block.  However, given the premium nature of this internet space, fees could be more than this.

For those that miss out on the sunrise period, there will still be post-enforcement options available, for example, the UDRP procedure.

There are some uncertainties around the registration procedure as this space is still new and the rules around it are still being finalised.  Indeed, it appears that the block may only last as long as ICM remains responsible for the .xxx domain name space, which at this stage is only 10 years.  After that, it is not known what will happen with any blocks that may be in place.

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