“The Trademark Clearinghouse will accept and authenticate rights information, and will support both trademark claims and sunrise services, required in all new gTLDs.” (ICANN)
“The Trademark Clearinghouse is a centralized database of verified data on registered, court-validated or “statute/treaty-protected” trademarks.” (WIPO)
So what does this actually mean for your brand? The Clearinghouse is intended to make the life of the trademark owner easier by allowing you to pay a fee and deposit all of your trademark data in one centralized location, rather than having to submit it to each new gTLD registry. The new gTLD registries will in turn, have access to the information help by the Clearinghouse.
Sunrise Registration Periods
Sunrise periods are a type of Rights Protection Mechanism or RPM that are made available for at least 30 days after the registration of a new gTLD with a registry, where brands can buy their trademarked second level domain before it is made publically available. The Trademark Clearinghouse will facilitate access to sunrise registration periods on new gTLDs for trademark owners, alerting them as they begin.
In order to qualify for sunrise period registrations, trademark owners are required to provide proof of use for their trademark. This is a relatively simple process that covers all regions and jurisdictions, requiring a single submission of proof of use of the mark used actively to distinguish the product/service/company from others.
Trademark Claims Services
Trademark Claims Services provide second level domain name registrants with a clear warning when they go to register a second level domain that is an exact match with a registered trademark in the Trademark Clearinghouse. It will also alert the registry operating the gTLD that this has happened. This service is obliged to operate for 60 days after the new gTLD has opened for general registrations of second level domains.
It is important to note that ICANN limits Sunrise periods and Claims services to exact matches of a domain name to a word mark so these services will not cover typos or “trademark + term” scenarios such as .ebaydeals or .amazn.
If your trademark contains characters that are impermissible in a domain name e.g. @ or ! then the Trademark Clearinghouse will select a number of permissible alternatives for use. As the brand owner, you will be able to select which of these variants are used by the Clearinghouse for sunrise and trademark claims services. The only restriction is that the matching rules must be able to be applied in an automated, uniform way for all situations.
- Ensure you have proof of use for your trademark
- Keep an eye out for the opening of registration with the Clearinghouse
- If you have impermissible characters in your trademark, investigate and select alternatives in conjunction with the Clearinghouse when it opens