Stop your trademark from going XXX
Your trademark is your identity. You've worked hard to build your brand and associated goodwill. If you are like many trademark owners, you hope to expand your brand and goodwill into as many territories as possible.
There is one territory, however, that you would likely want to steer your brand clear of: the new virtual territory designated for the adult industry - a new generic top level domain (gTLD), .XXX, which will soon be available to the general public starting in December 2011.
What is ".XXX"?
Domain names registered under the new top level domain ".XXX" will be used for websites featuring adult content. ICM Registry, the domain name registrar chosen to manage the top level domain, has already launched the application process for those in the adult industry who intend to register and develop .XXX domain names. Starting December 6, 2011, registration of .XXX will be available to the general public.
ACT NOW - Protect Your Registered Trademark
A trademark owner that fails to act before Oct. 28 faces the unpleasant prospect of discovering that its trademark has been registered by a third party for an adult entertainment website. Fortunately, as part of the .XXX launch process, ICM Registry has provided qualified trademark owners the opportunity to block registration of domain names that correspond with their trademark registrations.
The procedure, called the "Sunrise B Period," allows owners of federally registered trademarks to file an "opt-out" request with participating domain name registrars. The Sunrise B Period began on September 7, 2011 and ends October 28, 2011. There is a one-time fee associated with the application, determined by the individual registrars, which generally ranges from $200 to $400.
Only owners of a U.S. trademark registration or a foreign equivalent can participate in the Sunrise B Period. Trademark owners who have not registered their marks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office are relegated to attempting to register the .XXX version of their trademarks in December 2011 - yet another reason to protect your mark through federal registration.
Beginning in December 2011, .XXX domain names that have not already been pre-registered by a member of the adult industry or blocked by a federal trademark owner will become available to the general public. Anyone, including an unauthorized user, will be able to register "yourtrademark.XXX."
Benefits Of Blocking Your Registered Trademark
There are several benefits to blocking "yourtrademark.XXX" during the Sunrise B Period:
• A successful application will render "yourtrademark.XXX" unavailable for registration by others; "yourtrademark.XXX" will simply resolve to a standard informational page.
• Unauthorized third parties will not be able to use "yourtrademark.XXX" in connection with websites containing adult content, thereby preventing your trademark from being tarnished.
• "Cybersquatters" will not have the opportunity to blackmail you by registering "yourtrademark.XXX." This could save thousands of dollars in attorneys' fees and expenses, not to mention the time associated with attempting to reclaim your trademark through litigation, a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("UDRP") proceeding, or a negotiated settlement.
The ".XXX" gTLD is intended to create a virtual red-light district on the World Wide Web, shielding those who are sensitive to adult content. For trademark owners, it has created a new battleground in the ongoing war to protect their marks from disparagement and misappropriation. Now is the time to act to prevent unauthorized use of your trademark in this new virtual "adults only" frontier.
Lindsey Rothrock is an attorney in the Intellectual Property Group for Denver law firm, Moye White LLP. Lindsey helps clients protect their brands, creative works, designs, proprietary information and business products. Contact her at 303.292.2900 or at firstname.lastname@example.org