I wouldn’t give a Castlemaine.xxx for any other domain name

ICANN, the US quango responsible for Internet domain names yesterday approved a new domain name – .xxx. Unsurprisingly, the domain name is aimed at, and was sponsored by, the wonderfully euphemistic “adult entertainment industry”.

But owners of other businesses might wish to pay attention too.

As with other new TLD launches, to counter any cybersquatting there will be a short sunrise period for legitimate trade mark holders to register domain names before the domains go on general sale. However, unlike previous TLD launches, this sunrise period will have three phases – two for the adult entertainment industy, and one for other businesses.

New sunrise procedure
Usually, brand owners will have a large estate of domain names (covering various TLDs and spellings/phrasings) that all point to the same website. When a new TLD is launched, the brand owner will pre-register that domain name and simply add it to its estate.

The reason for the dual track process for .xxx registrations is that if a .xxx domain points to another website, then web-filtering software designed to block .xxx domains might also block the other website (on the basis that it is obviously linked). Clearly, this could cause problems for brand owners who defensively register the .xxx version of their domain name, only to find that their main website is also blocked.

To get around this, the registry responsible for running the new TLD, ICM Registry, will be allowing non-adult entertainment industry brand owners to pre-register their domain through a specific sunrise process. Once registered, the domain name will display a page which says that the domain name has been registered under ICM’s brand protection programme. This will ensure that there is no third party cybersquatting/brand hijacking, whilst also ensuring that there is no link through to the brand owner’s main website.

It is expected that the sunrise periods will commence in September this year, with the new domain name becoming publicly available in November. You can follow progress and pre-register at the ICM Registry website.

Of course, it is presumably possible for brands with a reputation for more risque advertising to utilise the new TLD for specific marketing campaigns. I wonder if Castlemaine Breweries will be one of them?

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