Yesterday afternoon, I had the chance to speak with Stuart Lawley, Chairman and CEO of the ICM Registry, the company that manages the .XXX domain registry. I wanted to see where the company is at with regards to the upcoming launch, and he was kind enough to provide some information and insight.
The company is currently counting down until the Sunrise A and B period, which begin on September 7 and runs through the end of October. Sunrise A will give trademark holders in the adult community the opportunity to secure their trademark .XXX domain names. They can also attempt to secure their .XXX names if they own a corresponding domain name in another tld. For instance, the owner of FootFetish.com can claim FootFetish.XXX during this period.
Sunrise B is similar and takes place at the same time as Sunrise A, but it is the period for non-adult companies to claim trademark names for the Registry to not give out to others. For instance, Disney can put a claim onto Disney trademarks so nobody can purchase Disney.XXX or other disney trademarks. The interesting thing will be if an unrelated entity, such as someone with the last name Disney, claims Disney.XXX in Sunrise A. That could pose a predicament.
If there are multiple parties interested in particular domain names, they will be auctioned to the highest bidder, with all auctions going through Pool.
From November 8 – 25, there will be the landrush period, where people can place their orders for .XXX domain names that haven’t been claimed or that aren’t reserved by the ICM Registry. If names have multiple bidders, they will be auctioned via Pool.
According to Lawley, 635,000 unique names had been requested when there was the opportunity to request them via non-binding means. I know this isn’t entirely accurate, but it’s indicative of the demand. Lawley went out on a limb to predict that 300-500,000 .XXX domain names will be registered in the first year.
Similar to the .CO Registry’s Founders Program, ICM Registry has done the same for .XXX. The period for requests has since passed, and the Registry awarded a number of domain names to publishers who get the name(s) for free but must put up a website ASAP. Some of these (likely not safe for work) include the following:
The Registry is taking some unique measures with their domain registrations. All domain names will have the McAfee Secure Service enabled, protecting visitors from viruses and other malware. Ordinarily, this tool costs over $300, but it’s being given away for free to all registrants for all .XXX domain names.
In addition to this, Lawley explained that search engines like Google and Yahoo don’t do a fantastic job of helping searchers find adult websites. The Registry is going to set up a unique adult search engine with some of its reserved domain names like Porn.XXX and Sex.XXX and will use those as search portals searching through the .XXX websites. Since all .XXX names will have the McAfee protection, they are saying it’s now a safe way to search for adult content online.
Lawley mentioned that the few .XXX names that they put on the root (like Sex.XXX) generated hundreds of thousands of unique visits when they were tested for 48 hours in April. It’s interesting that people were already exploring .XXX via type-in before the extension had even been fully launched.
The ICM Registry team has an experienced management team running the registry, and it will be interesting to see how they market .XXX domain names. I am told they are a key sponsor of the upcoming TRAFFIC conference, and I am sure the party they plan will be noteworthy. The Registry also plans to exhibit at adult shows and conferences as well.
If you have an interest in learning more about Lawley and hearing more about the launch, you should tune in to Webmaster Radio this afternoon at 5pm EST for Victor Pitts’ interview.