nTLDs and Trademark Protection: How ICANN’s Trademark Clearinghouse Protects Your Brand

Perhaps you’ve been wondering how, with all the nTLDs releasing in the near future, you’ll be able to protect your brand. The Internet is about to get huge (echo “huge” in your head for added effect), so how will your trademark stand its ground?  ICANN has got you covered. With the addition of a Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH), ICANN hopes to help protect trademark security and clean up the waste of cost and time usually spent protecting trademark portfolios by simplifying the protection process. Because time is money, and money is numbers, and numbers are… well, you see where we’re going here.

What the TMCH is:

The Trademark Clearinghouse is a digital database in which trademark owners will be able to register their trademark. Once the trademark is registered, it brand copyright protect becomes a part of the Clearinghouse, and every time a nTLD becomes available, during the Sunset Period (the first sixty days after domains are available for purchase), the administering registry for that gTLD must run each new domain name through the database to make sure there are no matches. If there is a match, the applicant for the new domain name is notified, as well as the owner of the matched trademark. The process gives trademark owners the chance to protect their brand with minimal legwork.

What the TMCH does:

The TMCH will also provide a rapid dispute solution, to take down domains that infringe on other trademark copyrights, as well as provide a process for determining who gets rights when more than one registered trademark can claim ownership over the same domain. If a trademark owner identifies a rights infringement in the registration of a new domain, that owner can file an objection. ICANN has the ability to then pull an infringing domain quickly, allowing for added security to the trademark owner. The TMCH provides a point of contact to begin disputing and in doing so, creates a safer environment for trademark owners to protect their rights.

Arguably, the most defining characteristic of the new TMCH is that instead of having to register your entire trademark portfolio with every registry administering a new gTLD, you only have to register with the TMCH. That means, if you have a trademark portfolio of 10 trademarks, and 500 nTLDs start registering in the next few years, you saved money and time you would have spent on 5,000 different registrations. With the TMCH, you’ll only have to register your portfolio once, with the TMCH, and the registries, which are required to run every new domain through the database, will catch duplications before domains get registered.

The future of the TMCH:

ICANN is still working out the details for the implementation and administration of the TMCH, and many officials involved with the development are quick to point out that the process isn’t perfect, but the Clearinghouse provides a working solution to a previously huge problem – how to allow trademark owners to affordably protect their ownership.

Aside from the TMCH, many registries are in the process of developing their own measures to protect against trademark infringement, as well. The combination of registry guards, the TMCH, and trademark owners will hopefully make protecting against infringement a little easier. Read more about the nTLDs here on our blog, or follow our watcher as the application process unfolds.