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Brand-blocking service plotted for porn gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, May 15, 2019, 17:16:19 (UTC), Domain Registries

MMX wants to offer a new service for trademark owners worried about cybersquatting in its four porn-themed gTLDs.

The proposed Adult Block Services would be similar to Donuts’ groundbreaking Domain Protected Marks List and the recent Trademark Sentry offering from .CLUB Domains.

The service would enable big brands to block their marks from registration across all four TLDs for less than the price of individual defensive registrations.

Prices have not been disclosed, but a more-expensive “Plus” version would also allow the blocking of variants such as typos. The registry told ICANN:

The Adult Block Services will be offered as a chance for trademark owners to quickly and easily make labels unavailable for registration in our TLDs. For those trademark owners registering domain names as a defensive measure only, the Adult Block Services offer an easy, definitive, and cost-effective method for achieving their goals by offering at-a-stroke protection for TLDs included in the program. The Adult Block Services are similar to the Donuts’ DPML, Uniregistry’s EP and EP Plus and the .Club UNBS and should be immediately understood and accepted by the trademark community.

The Adult Block will allow trademark owners to block unregistered labels in our TLDs that directly match their trademarks. The Adult Block Plus will allow trademark owners to block unregistered, confusingly similar variations of their trademarks in our TLDs.

It seems more akin to DPML, and Uniregistry’s recently launched clone, than to .CLUB’s forthcoming single-TLD offering.

The Registry Service Evaluation Process request was filed by ICM Registry, which was acquired by MMX last year.

It only covers the four porn gTLDs that ICM originally ran, and not any of the other 22 gTLDs managed by MMX (aka Minds + Machines).

This will certainly make the service appear less attractive to the IP community than something like DPML, which covers Donuts stable of 242 TLDs.

While there’s no public data about how successful blocking services have been, anecdotally I’m told they’re quite popular.

What we do have data on is how popular the ICM gTLDs have been in sunrise periods, where trademark owners showed up in higher-than-usual numbers to defensively register their marks.

.porn, .adult and .sex garnered about 2,000 sunrise regs each, more than 20 times the average for a new gTLD, making them three of the top four most-subscribed sunrise periods.

Almost one in five of the currently registered domains in each of these TLDs is likely to be a sunrise defensive.

Now that sunrise is long gone, there may be an appetite in the trademark community for less-expensive blocks.

But there have been calls for the industry to unify and offer blocking services to cover all gTLDs.

The brand-protection registrar Com Laude recently wrote:

What brands really need is for registry operators to come together and offer a universal, truly global block that applies across all the open registries and at a reasonable price that a trademark owner with multiple brands can afford.

Quite how that would happen across over 1,200 gTLDs is a bit of a mystery, unless ICANN forced such a service upon them.

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Comments (5)

  1. John Berryhill says:

    “What brands really need is for registry operators to come together and offer a universal, truly global block that applies across all the open registries and at a reasonable price that a trademark owner with multiple brands can afford.”

    You left out…

    Additionally ComLaude offered to indemnify all of the registries against any private or regulatory action premised on competition laws in the event that these competitive businesses agreeing to price a service at the identical amount.

  2. gpmgroup says:

    “What brands really need is for registry operators to come together and offer a universal, truly global block that applies across all the open registries and at a reasonable price that a trademark owner with multiple brands can afford.”

    Doesn’t that go against the raison d’être for new gTLDs?

  3. Susan Payne says:

    Kevin – The original XXX block was well-received by brand owners and it was a disappointment that ICM’s plans to grandfather that across their new gTLDs could not be realised at the time, due to lack of flexibility in the RPMs rules. We’re supportive of registry operators who are looking to go further than the ICANN minimum protections, but the recent flurry of new registry-level blocks results in a piecemeal approach to brand protection and has an impact on budgets. As a point of clarity, this isn’t really about 1200 TLDs however, at present anyway, since there is no need for a block across dotBrands.

    John – we are not suggesting that registries should violate competition law. Your comment pre-supposes that there would be no way to offer a more meaningful service for brand owners without doing so. Ideally the ICANN multi-stakeholder model would be used to develop policy to introduce such a service to brand owners. Just as the Trademark Clearinghouse was created to provide one centralized solution to validate trademarks rather than each registry doing this on their own, so could a truly global blocking service in all TLDs be delivered. It is disappointing that the RPMs Review PDP looks unlikely to deliver such a solution. In the absence of that, the following could happen. First, we would encourage registries and registrars to develop, through their tech ops groups, mechanisms by which registries could offer blocks across each other’s TLD slate. Then, we believe that registries should be able to reach bilateral agreements with each other where each is in control of the price that they charge for the overall package. This could also be done voluntarily through a mutually agreed third party provider.

    • John Berryhill says:

      “there is no need for a block across dotBrands”

      Because a brand owner never committed trademark infringement?

      That’s a ridiculous proposition.

  4. Rob says:

    This must already exist. Surely there are corporate focused Registrars that offer their clients a bundle of TLD’s to acquire in order to block others from getting their designated strings.

    Leaving aside that such an action may violate the UDRP of registering solely for the intent to prevent someone else from having it, I can’t imagine you can’t find many Registrars that you could go to and say I want “String” in every TLD please.

    What logic is there to move this functionality to Registries, other than to hopefully obtain the same thing at a cheaper price.

    And debates about price should be beyond ICANN’s prevue.

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