"Pornsquatting" - is your Brand at risk from 01 December 2021?


New AdultBlock and AdultBlock+ services are launched to protect brands from “pornsquatting”

Protecting your brand’s reputation online is becoming an increasingly difficult task. Association with pornography, for a brand operating in a dissimilar market, could be very damaging in the eyes of consumers. What can you do if a third party registers your company’s trade mark (or its variations) with an adult-themed top-level domain? Brands could register and manage a number of domain names pre-emptively or, take retrospective action to try to and take forcible ownership of the infringing domain but both of these strategies are pricey and imperfect.

The alternative - AdultBlock and AdultBlock + services

There are four adult-content domain name extensions that many businesses are keen to avoid being associated with (.XXX, .ADULT, .PORN and .SEX). To address this issue, the blocking service Sunrise B Block was launched in 2011 to allow non-adult businesses to prevent the registration of infringing .xxx domains for a period of up to 10 years.On 1 December 2021, Sunrise B Block is due to expire which means that any previously blocked domains, which are not renewed, will become available to buy on a first come, first served basis, potentially opening these domains to the so called “pornsquatting". Brand owners who ignore the 01 December 2021 deadline could be taking a huge reputational risk.Two new blocking services will replace Sunrise B Block which can prevent your trade marks from being registered in adult-content domains:

  • AdultBlock: the standard service used to block a single term in all four adult-content domains.
  • AdultBlock+: the enhanced service used to block a term across all four .xxx, .adult, .porn and .sex adult-content domains, plus an unlimited number of confusingly similar variants of the term and homoglyphs in over 20 scripts.

The new AdultBlocks are available to trade mark holders registered with the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) as well as Sunrise B .xxx holders and businesses who transfer their trade marks to the service before the expiry of Sunrise B Block.The new AdultBlocks also have wider eligibility requirements which means that other rights, such as registered and common law trade marks and company names, can also be used to protect brands against infringement.

For more information and to learn how we can help, please contact us.AuthorsRosie Browne.


The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.