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Sannah Westerlund — 21/08/19

New methods to protect brand names from being hijacked under “adult” top-level domains

To the benefit of brand owners, IMC Registry, who stand behind, among others, the top- level domains (TLDs) .XXX, .ADULT, .SEX, and .PORN, have announced that they are launching new TLD protection services. The new protection services help companies ensure that their brand is blocked – and by that protected – from being registered as a domain name under all four “adult related” TLDs.

Previously, this type of blocking has been available for the .XXX TLD, but that protection service disappears in conjunction with its 10th anniversary in 2021, and is instead replaced by AdultBlock and AdultBlock+, two new protection services, offering a more extensive coverage. When the protection service first was introduced in 2011, it was widely successful. Many brand owners seized the opportunity to not have to worry about their brands being associated with adult content, and blocking the brand offered protection at a lower cost than defensive registration (defensive registration = to register a domain name to prevent others from using it).


AdultBlock and AdultBlock+ – New protection services
  • AdultBlock ensures blocking of the brand from being registered under the .SEX, .PORN, .ADULT, and .XXX TLDs, and automatically blocks any dropped names irrespective of the domain name.
  • AdultBlock+ includes AdultBlock but is more extensive, protecting against look-alike variations that can be considered confusingly similar to the brand name. AdultBlock+ also covers all possible homoglyph versions of a brand, e.g. I, l, and ĺ (uppercase and lowercase letters).

The blocking also includes premium names and can be transferred to different registrars. The new services are offered for 1, 3, 5, or 10 years at a time.


In order to use these protection services, one of the following criteria has to be met by the brand owner:
  1. The brand is registered with Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH)


  1. The brand is protected by a current XXX-block / Sunrise B-block (in order to transfer an earlier block to one of the new services without further verification, the transfer must take place, at latest, 31 December 2021)


What’s the difference between a block and a registration?

When blocking a domain name, you protect your brand from being registered under the selected TLD. In contrast to a registration, you don’t buy the right to use the domain name as such, and therefor it can’t be activated, which means that it won’t work on the internet. On the other hand, it prevents someone else from registering the name and thus that it is used for a purpose you don’t want to be associated with.

Usually, the cost of blocking a name is lower than the cost of the registering and the yearly renewal of a domain name.


What do brand owners have to do?

Start with looking into if there are any already existing blocks and TMCH registrations, ensuring that the brands you want to block meet the requirements for blocking.

If you have a .XXX-block, it will cancel in 2021, and will then need to be replaced by AdultBlock.

At Dotkeeper, we are happy to advice you on the usage of AdultBlock and/or AdultBlock+, and whether you can use it as part of an effective domain and branding strategy.


Contact us, we’ll be happy to help you!