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Half of all attempts to protect trademarks from the new .xxx internet extension could be failing due to lawyers' inability to RTFM*.

That appears to be the conclusion of one company handling applications to prevent trademark-infringing use of the new adults-only top-level domain.

The .xxx extension, operated by ICM Registry, is in its "sunrise" period, during which trademark-holders can apply to have their brands blocked permanently from the space.

EnCirca, a domain name registrar, said this week that 50 per cent of all the blocks it is processing contain errors. This could prove costly to trademark owners.

Under ICM's rules, a sunrise application that contains erroneous information must be re-filed and paid for a second time. Most registrars are charging $200 to $300 to handle these filings.

According to EnCirca, many companies that have a trademark that includes ".com" are applying to get a .xxx domain that excludes the .com in favour of .xxx.

But the sunrise rules state that applications must be for an exact-match string only, excluding non-compliant symbols, so the owner of a trademark on "example.com" would only be able to block "examplecom.xxx", not "example.xxx".

EnCirca points out that a parallel ICM sunrise process enables companies to apply to defensively register a .xxx domain if they own a matching string in another extension. Those registrations would incur a recurring annual registration fee, however.

ICM says that the proportion of bad applications across all of its 70-plus registrars is much smaller.

"EnCirca can only be commenting on the applications it has seen," said ICM president Stuart Lawley. "The average is well under 20 per cent."

The .xxx sunrise period, which runs until 28 October, is expected to be the most over-subscribed domain launch since .eu in 2006, due largely to companies outside of the porn business terrified that cybersquatters will register their .xxx brands and hold them to ransom.

ICM confirmed to El Reg earlier this month that the sunrise phase, which started 7 September, processed more than 10,000 defensive applications just in its first week, beating its projections for the whole 52-day period.

The company had set its fee – $162 wholesale to registrars – based on 10,000 blocks being paid for, so it will almost certainly turn a profit selling these non-resolving domain names. It is estimated that the final tally will be at least double that target.

After the sunrise has finished, ICM plans to launch a "landrush" period, starting 8 November.

During landrush, anybody with a burning desire to get their grubby paws on a .xxx domain will be able to pay a premium price in order to attempt to secure a potentially valuable address without the need for a trademark or a pre-existing registration. Any contested domains will be fought over at auction.

The .xxx extension will go into general availability, with prices averaging around $100 per domain per year, on 6 December. ®

* Read the Fucking Manual – join any El Reg comments thread for further elucidation...

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