.XXX blocks retire; new services to cover all adult TLDs

In a positive development for brand owners, ICM Registry, the entity behind the adult content-oriented .XXX Top Level Domain (TLD), has just announced its new blocking mechanisms, AdultBlock and AdultBlock+. Beyond .XXX, these blocks will cover all four of its adult-themed TLDs: .XXX, .PORN, .ADULT, and .SEX.

Background

ICM Registry first introduced the concept of brand protection by blocking with its “Sunrise B” phase in 2011, prior to ICANN’s larger new gTLD program.

Motivated both by concerns about brand association with adult content and by the opportunity to protect brands at a lower cost than a defensive registration, many brand owners took advantage of Sunrise B blocks. For a one-time fee, these Sunrise B blocks are effective for the duration of ICM Registry’s initial 10-year contract to run the .XXX TLD.

As this 10-year anniversary and Sunrise B expiration approaches, ICM Registry will be replacing the Sunrise B program with these new blocks with hopes of repeating the 65,000+ brand success it had with Sunrise B with a service that more closely resembles today’s renewable blocks like DPML and TREx.

So what’s new?

Both block tiers cover all four TLDs (not just .XXX), include premium names, and can be transferred to different registrars. Further, as opposed to the initial Sunrise B requirement to commit to 10 years, clients may now choose to block for a 1, 3, 5, or 10-year term. To qualify, brand owners need an SMD file from the Trademark Clearinghouse for the mark to be blocked, or they can roll over a Sunrise B block without requiring additional verification if they do so by December 31, 2019. The upgraded AdultBlock+ covers all possible “homoglyph” variations of a trademark, for example: I & l & ĺ (the uppercase i , lowercase letter L and lowercase L with acute).

What’s the same?

If homoglyph blocking sounds familiar, homoglyph coverage in AdultBlock+ is provided through the registry’s connection to Uniregistry’s Uni EPS+, which also includes homoglyph coverage.

In consolidating features and benefits with an existing blocking provider, many brand owners appreciate ICM Registry’s responding to calls from the brand protection community for registries to simplify and consolidate blocks, thereby making them easier to understand (and purchase, as a non-subtle reminder for our readers at registries who are considering their own blocking offering).

What do brand owners need to do?

Brand owners should inventory their Sunrise B blocks and TMCH filings to ensure they qualify for any marks they would like to block.

MarkMonitor clients who haven’t already heard from us should contact their CSM with any questions, including objective advice as to whether it makes sense to order AdultBlock or AdultBlock+ as a cost-effective replacement for existing defensive registrations or otherwise as part of your brand protection strategy. Clients should also plan to attend our client Forum in Boise, where we are excited to hold an interactive workshop on the dollars and cents behind blocking as part of an effective domain and brand protection strategy.

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