ICANN Unveils New Trademark Clearinghouse
ICANN recently revealed information about the new trademark clearinghouse that will be used to help trademark owners protect their brands in connection with the pending introduction of new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs). Here is a nutshell summary of what you need to know:
When Does it Start?
The trademark clearinghouse is slated to open its doors (albeit virtually) on March 26, 2013.
How Much Does It Cost?
Prices are per trademark. $150 for one year. $435 for 3 years. $725 for 5 years. There is a discount for multiple registrations based on a point system; 1 point for each one year registration, 4 points for each 3 year registration and 7 points for each 5 year registration. The discounts don’t kick in until you’ve accumulated 3,000 points in a single year. Query whether this will prompt a new business venture for trademark agents to aggregate brands of multiple trademark owners so as to pass discounts along (in part) to brand owners. The jury is still out on this one.
What Do I Get if I Register?
You get three things.
First, registration is a condition to be able to register the corresponding domain name during the pre-registration period of multiple TLDs (known as the “Sunrise” period). During the Sunrise period, eligible trademark holders will have the opportunity to register their marks as domain names 30 days in advance of the general public.
Second, you get a deterrent. If some tries to register a domain name that matches your trademark, the potential registrant will be sent a warning notice alerting her that the domain name she is trying to register matches a trademark in the clearinghouse.
Third, if that potential registrant continues to register the matching domain name, you have the option of getting notice of the registration.
Will The Clearinghouse Protect Against Domain Name Registrations Under the .com and Other Existing gTLDs?
So far, it looks like the answer to this question is “no.” To date, it appears that the clearinghouse benefits and protections listed above will only apply to new gTLDs, not pre-existing ones.
Who Can Apply to Register?
Generally, any owner, licensee or assignee of a registered trademark. In certain cases, holders of unregistered marks can register as well, if their mark has been validated by a national court.
Where Can I Get More Information?
The clearinghouse has recently launched a website with more information. Check back frequently as the website appears to be being frequently revised and updated. ICANN’s website also has clearinghouse FAQs that provide supplemental information (some of which is not yet available on the clearinghouse website, including the form of notice given to potentially conflicting domain name registrants, for example).