Introduction of the .xxx top level domain name will create a clearly signposted place where adult entertainment can be accessed on the internet – but companies need to ensure their trademarks don’t end up exploited as x-rated domains.

From 6 December 2011, .xxx domain name registration opens to anyone on a first-come-first-served basis. Trademark owners are urged to take advantage of the sunrise period – from 7 September 2011 to 28 October 2011 – to block the registration of their trademarks as .xxx domains.

According to Donvay Wegierski, director at Werksmans Attorneys: “The decreasing availability of domain names, combined with the vast amount of adult entertainment information on the net means that internet users are inadvertently visiting websites that they may not wish to see. In order to prevent this, anyone wishing to operate an adult website will need to register a .xxx domain name.”

However, Wegierski explains that this development creates a risk for trade mark owners not involved in the adult entertainment industry as “cyber squatters” are likely to exploit the situation by pre-emptively registering .xxx domain names which contain trademarks belonging to others.

She says trademark owners will therefore need to move quickly to block third parties from registering .xxx domain names that match their trademarks.

“Trademark owners should take advantage of the sunrise period to ensure that their trademarks are blocked against  registration as .xxx domains,” she says. “Once a .xxx domain is blocked it will permanently prevent another party from registering that domain. This is a once off process as the trade mark owner will not have to renew the domain name.”