"ICANN’s New TLD Programs: Trademark Owners Beware!"

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) recently approved two new programs that could dramatically expand the number of domains that are available to users of the Internet and, at the same time, also create risks for existing intellectual property owners.  On June 20, 2011, ICANN approved the expansion of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) beyond the current 22 gTLDs (e.g., .com, .org, .edu, etc.), by allowing companies to create new gTLDs in any language or script.  Earlier this year, ICANN approved a second program -- the .xxx Sponsored Top Level Domain Name (sTLD) program (also known as the launch of the .xxx domain), which creates a dedicated TLD for adult oriented websites. 

This Stroock Special Bulletin looks at these two new programs, including the decisions that trademark owners will face on whether to expend time and resources to submit applications for new gTLDs or to block .xxx sTLDs from being registered in order to prevent the diminution of the value of their brands.