.XXX Domains Begin Sunrise Period

After a number of fits and starts, a new top level domain name extension makes its long-awaited debut today. The idea for the .XXX extension was first proposed to The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in the year 2000. After failing to pass, the proposal was resubmitted in 2004,and again in 2007 and 2010. The final vote for approval of the .XXX domain extension was passed earlier this year – but even that vote was not a clear mandate for .XXX as the measure still faced heated internal opposition. The vote in favor was also in direct opposition to ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee which recommended against allowing the .XXX domain extension. The final vote saw 9 ICANN board members vote in favor of .XXX. However, there were 3 members opposed and 4 declined to vote at all.

So what exactly is the purpose for the .XXX domain extension? According to ICM Registry – the company that will administer the new extension – the new .XXX domain will serve the following function: ”This sTLD (sponsored Top Level Domain) is designed specifically for the global adult entertainment industry as a trusted brand, globally recognized and extolling responsible and safe behavior”.

This week marks the beginning of the ”sunrise period” for .XXX. This is a phase of the domain registration process which favors verified trademark holders. According to the ICM Registry website, the sales of the .XXX domains will occur as follows on the dates listed below:

Sunrise A – Sunrise A is dedicated to members of the adult Sponsored Community with either verifiable trademark rights or owners of exact matching domains in other IANA TLDs which is also known as ”Grandfathering”. Sunrise A begins on September 7, 2011.

Sunrise B – Sunrise B was created especially for non-adult Intellectual Property holders who are non-members of the adult Sponsored Community with verifiable trademark rights so they can block their domains in the .XXX sTLD. Sunrise B begins on September 7, 2011.

Following a ”quiet period” the distribution of .XXX domain names continues as follows.

Landrush – Landrush is for members of the adult Sponsored Community but NOT on a first come, first served basis. Unlike Sunrise A and Sunrise B, there are no qualification requirements needed for Landrush. Applications for competing names will go to a closed-auction at the end of the Landrush period. Landrush begins on November 8, 2011.

Following a second ”quiet period” the distribution of .XXX domain names continues with General Availability on December 6, 2011. General Availability is when members of the adult Sponsored Community get regular, resolving names on a first come, first served basis.

According to the ICM Registry the price of .XXX domains will be set by registrars who will determine the prices their customers pay. A brief survey among popular registrars found pre-release pricing for .XXX domains of around $130 for the first year for the landrush phase and $60 per year for the general availability domain period. To view specific pricing and see a .XXX domain search you can view the .XXX domain overview page of GoDaddy here.

What are the pros and cons of offering the .XXX domain extension? Mr. Stuart Melling is co-founder of UK domain registration company 34SP.com which has been selling domains for over a decade. Mr. Melling sees some advantages to the offering and expressed concern as well, ”The prospect of a new top level domain extension is always exciting for our customers and those who are domain buyers. With no .XXX domain names reserved from the outset, it means that anyone has an equal chance to register a unique, short and meaningful domain name. Hence the initial phase usually being termed as a ”land grab” or “landrush”. With the .XXX domain extension there is an added branding dimension. Companies may elect to register their brand names preemptively to prevent others from using a traditional brand name as a .XXX variant. This is the downside – that as new extensions are added to the registry, companies are constantly registering new domain names. Not because they want to actually use the domain name, but merely to prevent others from diluting the brand.”

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