By Jeff John Roberts
September 2, 2015

The Internet is not exactly short of smutty websites, but, just in case, here comes thousands more. A website registry service started selling the first “.sex” domain names on a limited basis Wednesday, and soon the name will be available to all comers.

The “.sex” sites will join “.adult,” “.xxx” and “.porn” as part of a huge expansion of Internet real estate that began in 2012.

While the arrival of “.sex” may be appealing to aspiring pornographers, it also presents a headache to big companies, which face a risk of third parties using the DOMAIN name to make mischief with their brands. Disney, for instance, would not relish visitors arriving at websites like “Disney.sex” or “MickeyMouse.sex” (the company appears to have already taken control of Disney.xxx).

To prevent this situation, the registration process for “.sex” includes a so-called sunrise period that allows trademark owners first crack at buying the new domain names. As industry site Domain Name Wire explains, qualifying companies can reserve their names until October 1. After that, there is another limited purchase period before “.sex” becomes open to everyone on November 4.

While the sunrise process may seem fair, the arrival of “.sex” is likely to lead to fuel further criticism of ICANN, the global organizations that overseas web names.

While ICANN has framed the hundreds of new offerings (which also include tamer names like “.books” and “.church”) as a land rush, the expanded offerings are also a boon for cyber-squatters and other nuisances. The problem surfaced again recently when Google registered its new holding company as a “.xyz” name, and third parties rushed to snap up names like “googlecars.xyz” and “googledocs.xyz.” While Google and others can use trademark law or a special arbitrations process to reclaim their names, the problem of cybersquatters has persisted for years.

ICANN has also come in for particular criticism for its handling of the new “.sucks” domain, which is controlled by a Canadian registry that wants to charge businesses $2500 to claim their “.sucks” name – before it is sold to the general public for $10.

The new “.sex” name is controlled by ICM Registry, which also owns the three other adult-themed domains, and is sold to companies and consumers through registrars like GoDaddy.

ICM Registry’s website does not say how much a “.sex” registration costs, or which companies have already moved to claim their names. It will be likely be in November when the public finds out how many popular brands appear on the Internet with “.sex” after their names.

You can learn more about the .sucks dilemma below:

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