For starters, what is the .XXX extension? Even its name is rather explicit: it is an extension that is aimed at professionals in the adult entertainment industry, primarily pornography. The founding idea was to group together all of the adult websites under this extension, and thus help control access to these websites more easily.
Discussions on this extension have been going on for more than 10 years now, and despite many reports and political opposition, its final approval was given on March 18th 2011 by ICANN. The extension's official public release date has not yet been defined, but it should occur by the end of the year. Nevertheless, as with the majority of new extensions, there will be several "pre-registration" and reservation phases for the .XXX, which will begin in September 2011. And in the case of this extension, the Sunrise (reservation) phase is a bit particular. Here is why:
There are three profiles that can participate in the preliminary reservation phase, which has a single price of $200.00 (£135.00 or €150.00) excl. VAT at Gandi.net, and which begins in September:
- the profile, that we will call type "A", corresponds to trademark holders that meet membership requirements of the XXX community (ex. professionals of the pornography industry),
- then there is the group that we will call type "B", which consists of trademark holders that are not part of this community, but which to protect their trademarks against cybersquatting and/or its use in association with pornographic content.
- we can also designate a type "C' which is a bit like type "A" except that instead of demonstrating that they own a trademark, they must own a pornographic website (in an extension that is recognized by IANA) that has been in existence since at least February 1st 2010.
These customer profile types only matter during the Sunrise period. Know that once the general opening of the extension occurs, only professionals of the porn industry will be able to purchase a .XXX domain (and this, without restriction, other than the Premium and reserved names).
This means that if you are a member of the "type B" population, and if you own one or more trademarks that you would like to protect from potential cybersquatting, then the Sunrise phase in September is the only occasion when it will be possible for you (before several months), and at any rate, after the general opening!
This being said, how does the Sunrise period work, and what makes it special?
The main particularity of this extension is that it will have the majority of registered unusable domain names. Why? Because type "B" customers will want to protect their brands (register .XXX domains that correspond to their brand, so that they cannot be used by type A and C customers.
Even if this may seem a bit shocking, the idea is not altogether outrageous: the Registry's goal (other than making a lot of money), is to manage an extension that only publishes adult content. In order to make this extension credible in this role, it must therefore be sure that there are not a bunch of commercial .XXX websites without any relationship with the community in question. And all of this, by allowing other brands to be protected. The idea is to make the protected brand unusable, for anyone.
What is nice, however, is that the fee is only requested once: you will not be asked for any renewal in order to maintain the domain's reserved status.
The domain names that are granted for type B requests will be blocked by the registry for a minimum duration of 10 years (the length of the contract between the Registry and ICANN).
Such blocked domain names do not belong to anyone and cannot be used, rather, they point to a page that simply indicates the blocked status of the domain.
On the downside, in the event of a similar request by a member of the A or C populations, they will be the owners...
I will give you a concrete example in order to help make things more clear. Imagine that, at Gandi, we would like to protect our trademark. We are clearly in the B population, and we do not necessarily want there to be a gandi.xxx website that displays pornographic images, because this would harm our trademark's image. Therefore, we will proceed with the protection process by choosing to pay the one-time, non refundable fee asked by the registry. So, we will therefore follow the protection process by submitting a request along with the non refundable fee requested by the registrar. At Gandi this will be $200.00 (£135.00 or €150.00) excl. VAT*.
If no member of the type 'A' or 'C' groups makes a similar request (and provides the necessary proofs of registration trademark of course) for "Gandi", then the at the end of the Sunrise period, the domain name will get a "reserved" status, and will no longer be able to be registered by anyone.
We will not even have the domain name on our interface, because we will not know who the owner is: it will belong to the Registry, who rendered it unavailable.
It is to be noted that this status is permanent. If, say, in 5 years, we transform Gandi.net into a pornographic film studio, we will not be able to recover the domain.
Now if for example, during the Sunrise period, there is a company called Gandi that is specialized in porn magazines (and therefore is type "A"), and they own the trademark in their country, makes a similar request at their registrar: they will be granted ownership.
Nevertheless, the registry will warn the type "A" customer of a request by a type "B" customer of the possibility of withdrawing their request. If the type "A" applicant does not withdraw their request before the end of the sunrise, then the domain gandi.xxx will be granted to them, and we, the type "B" customer, will not be refunded.
Of course, the same thing will happen if it is a type "C" application that occurs. For example, let's say that the owner of the website gandi.com has been streaming amateur sex videos since 2008. In this case, he will be more eligible for ownership than you.
Finally, let's imagine that all three requests were made at the same time. As a type "B" customer, we have been taken out of the race. But what will happen to the type "A" request and the type "C" request? The registry will contact them to organize a private auction among them in order to determine the lucky winner!
The Sunrise phase will last 30 days, and the arbitration will occur at the end of this period, so that all of the requests will be processed at the same time.
Next, a 14-day pause will occur before the beginning of the Landrush phase, which will be exclusively open to members of the adult entertainment industry.
Finally, after a new pause, it will be open in a 'normal' manner, however still reserved to members of the porn community, and for a price of €60 excl.VAT per year.
The registry has already announced that a new trademark protection phase will occur, however they have not yet set an exact date.
For more information on .XXX, I recommend going to this site.
Finally, if you would like to trust Gandi for the protection of your trademark or to register your .XXX domain please go here.
* This price includes participation in the Sunrise period as well as the 1st year of registration for Type "A" and "C" customers.