New .Porn Domain Names Could Cause Cyber-Squatters

New .Porn Domain Names Could Cause Cyber-Squatters

This month marked the launch of the “.porn” and “.adult” generic top-level domains (gTLDs), by the ICM Registry. These risqué domain names have many brands talking, especially those worried about cybersquatting.

Kristy Gordon
Posted by Kristy Gordon

Last year saw the launch of the new gTLD program, which added hundreds of new domain name spaces to the internet, such as “.melbourne”, “.finance”, and “.food”.  The program’s stated goal is to enhance competition, innovation, and consumer choice.

Brands now able to register strong generic domain names, which simply wasn’t possible in overcrowded gTLDs such as .com and .com.au.

However, there have also been new domain name spaces released where brand owners have had to invest in purely for defensive purposes.

With all of these new gTLDs, there comes the  .porn and .adult. Trademark holders are concerned about third parties registering their brands in the .porn and .adult domain name space(s) for malicious purposes.

Cybersquatters have been known to use this technique to deliberately damage brands and to draw visitors to their sites. These sites normally contain material that can damage a brand reputation by association with offensive content and potentially fraudulent e-commerce activity.

Toy companies, news websites, religious groups and music stars are just some examples of organisations attacked by this confronting form of cybersquatting.  There is a concern among brands, that domain name spaces could be used for such purposes.

NetNames Australia have been involved in several cases where malicious domain name registrations have redirected to quite graphic adult content.

Understandably, many brand holders are taking a proactive and defensive position on these domain name spaces. Under these .Porn and .Adult policy guidelines, trademark holders are given the opportunity to register their names before anyone else and priority will be given to existing holders of dotXXX TLDs.

Australia’s Internet censorship laws when referring to pornography and adult content mean that some websites, including those rated as X18+ by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) cannot be hosted in the country, which will mean any organisations involved in the adult entertainment industry may refrain from registering in the dotAdult or dotPorn space to go unnoticed by the authorities.

We have seen brand and celebrities rush to secure their IP in these spaces. The singer Taylor Swift, Microsoft and Harvard University are among those buying up ‘.porn’ and ‘.adult’ web suffixes as a pre-emptive move before those domain names become available to the general public.

Whilst many brands are worried about these domain name spaces, some companies have flagged that they will try to take advantage of the memorable marketing opportunities that these domain names could present.

There is a growing trend to use the term “porn” as an adjective meaning general overindulgence. Terms such as “food porn”, “shoe porn” and “car porn” which can be used to describe gluttonous excesses, are expected to fetch a premium price when sold during general availability.

One thing is for sure, with the launch of these two new suffixes, the new gTLDs will certainly get more people talking.