Hacker Connect January 16 in New York
An event for and by the real estate tech community

Back in April, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the organization responsible for managing top-level domains, approved the use of the ".XXX" domain. This domain was created specifically for the adult entertainment industry and the ICANN-appointed ICM Registry, a privately held company, to facilitate the managing of the new domain extension.

Our local MLS association published a bulletin notifying its members of this news, which prompted me to immediately research the announcement.

How does this affect the real estate industry?

The announcement could potentially have a negative impact on established brands or anyone who owns a domain name. For example, "YourDomain.xxx" will soon be available, and you certainly do not want that to fall into the wrong hands. It may not be a bad strategy to protect your trademark and domain name by blocking or acquiring this new extension for your domain name.

There are three time-sensitive phases available to protect your brand and trademark, as stated by our company’s registrar, Network Solutions.

Please note the corresponding dates:

1. Sunrise: Trademark holders and pre-existing exact match domains (starts Sept. 10, 2011; ends Oct. 28, 2011)
The Sunrise phase has three options, and two of them are applicable only to members of the adult entertainment community. Realtors should utilize the "Sunrise B" option. This option is for brands that own a trademark, will not be participating in the adult entertainment industry and want to block or protect their trademark. This is the option that I utilized. The cost was a one-time fee of $329.99 (prices may vary from registrar to registrar) and blocks the ".XXX" domain permanently.

2. Landrush: Advanced Premium (starts Nov. 8, 2011, and ends Nov. 25, 2011)
The Landrush phase is not a first-come, first-served option, and applicants must complete a membership process. This option is for those not wanting to wait for the general availability. Also, there is an auction available during this phase for any ownership conflicts.

3. General Availability (starts Dec. 6, 2011)
The general availability phase will be available to everyone on a first-come, first-served basis. There are no trademark or industry requirements. Anyone will be able to purchase a ".XXX" domain name!

The ICM Registry states "as with any current domain name registry, once the general availability phase is open, the registry will be run on a first-come, first-served basis and with no pre-emptive rights protection in place. Although there will be post-launch-rights protection mechanisms in place, we believe that many rights owners will take a ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach."

Important note: I consulted with my company’s lawyer before filing the Sunrise B option, and if you need trademark and other legal advice you may want to speak with a lawyer, too.

Blocking or obtaining "YourDomain.xxx" may be a necessary evil, and when you look at the big picture, investing a few hundred dollars to protect your trademark and online reputation seems to be a no-brainer. Network Solutions has published an informative video and overview flowchart that explains and breaks down all of the available options. You can also visit the ICM Registry for additional information.

Tom Flanagan is the director of information technology at Residential Properties Ltd. in Providence, R.I. You can contact him at tflanagan@residentialproperties.com or @tflan on Twitter.

Contact Tom Flanagan:
Facebook Twitter Facebook Email Facebook Letter to the Editor