Protect Your Brand And Name From The Online Red Light District

Posted by October 26, 2011
1 Comment

A new adult–only TLD suffix (.xxx) has been added to the domain name system, alongside the usual suspects: .com, .gov, .net, and .uk, in an initiative intended to sign-post adult internet sites more appropriately and to prevent children accidentally accessing unsuitable content.

However, the launch of what many are calling the “online red light district” has a caused new wave of concerns over cyber-squatting, branding and reputation management. The .xxx TLD is likely to be a useful device for attracting visitors to certain sites – especially if combined with the name of well-known brands, people or characters, and the risk of certain types of operators taking advantage of that fact is very real.

In response to this, the ICM Registry – the body managing the new adult entertainment domain – has established a process for blocking third parties obtaining certain domains. So far it has received around 15,000 reservations from individuals and companies. However some obvious brands are still available to purchase – by anyone.

To opt-out, the applicant must own a national qualifying trademark that they wish to reserve. The ICM guidance states that the registered trademark must be identical to the textual component of the corresponding domain name. Following approval by the ICM, the domain name will be removed from the registry pool for ten years. However, the deadline to reserve a domain name is the 28 October 2011 – so those concerned should act now.

Alex Chapman, head of Interactive at Sheridans, says “Whilst this problem is not unique to .xxx domain names, the fact that the .xxx suffix has a particular audience will no doubt make brand owners and individuals more concerned. The good news is that there is a fairly straightforward and cost effective process for them to protect their interests – especially when compared with the process for dealing with cyber-squatters after the event.”

For further information on how to protect your brand from the .xxx domain, please contact the Sheridans Team at or on 020 7079 0100.

  1. On January 3rd, 2012, Rob Davis said...

    This is bad news for small entrepreneurs and individual professionals wishing to protect their reputation owing to the costs and time required first of all to apply for a trademark (the end result not always successful, e.g. on the grounds of distinctiveness) and then the cost and time of the registration itself . A much better approach would be a mandatory, easily enforceable condition that those wishing to register a xxx domain can only do so if the name is not used on any of the other TLDs (and that would include part of the proposed xxx domain which would identify a brand or person). And vice-versa: Those registering a .com domain cannot use names used by the xxx. That to me would keep xxx separate from everything else, and is easily enforceable at the point of domain registration, rather than the lengthly, bureaucratic protection proposed. Moveover, such a simply enforceable process would be cost effective – particularly welcome in these difficult economic times. It might not be a completely failsafe measure – but it would catch many attempts I think. For others a the trademark based approach might be necessary. And note that I’m not discounting the value of trademarks as I’ve personally been involved in a successful mark registration so I know the process first hand but I feel that it is unnecessary for many cases in this particular situation.

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