The Trademark Clearinghouse (“TMCH”) officially launches today, March 26th.  The TMCH was created to help trademark holders prevent trademark infringement or misuse in the face of new top-level domains (TLDs) that are expected to launch over the next few years.  There are nearly 2,000 applications for these new TLDs, and include domains such as “.inc” .home” and “.kitchen” among many others.  There is valid concern among trademark owners that registration of domains like the following will confuse consumers about the source of the domain and its content:

<www.YOURTRADEMARKHERE.newTLD>

It would be prohibitively expensive, however, for a trademark owner to have to register their marks in every one of those 2,000 domains in order to block squatters or prevent trademark infringement.

Thus, the TMCH was created to protect trademarks in two ways:

  1. Sunrise Service – at least 30 days before a domain name is offered to the general public, trademark holders who have registered with the TMCH will be able to register their domain name in the TLD.  In other words, TMCH registrants will be able to purchase <www.YOURTRADEMARKHERE.newTLD> before the general public can; and
  2. Claims Services – when a potential domain name registrant attempts to register a domain name that matches a trademark term in the TMCH, he or she will receive  a warning notice.  If the domain name is ultimately registered, the trademark holder with the corresponding mark will receive notification of the domain name registration, allowing them to take appropriate action.

Registration costs are $150 per mark per year, with minor discounts available for 3 or 5 year registrations.

Eligible marks include:

  • Nationally or regionally registered word marks from all jurisdictions;
  • Word marks that have been validated through a court of law or other judicial proceeding;
  • Word marks protected by a statute or treaty in effect at the time the mark is submitted to the Clearinghouse for inclusion; and
  • Other marks that constitute intellectual property may be recorded in the Clearinghouse by arrangement with a registry.

Image: By Rock1997 (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons