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Preparing for the Launch of the Trademark Clearinghouse

Elisa Cooper

With the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) expected to begin accepting submissions within the next month or so, many companies are now attempting to identify marks for inclusion.

As a reminder, the TMCH is a centralized repository of validated rights which will be used in support of ICANN's New gTLD Program.

Submissions to the TMCH enable brand owners to register their trademarks as domain names during so-called Sunrise Periods. To participate in any New gTLD Sunrise, marks must be validated by the TMCH. In addition, the TMCH provides notifications to brand owners when an exact-match domain name registration is made during the first 60/90 days of general availability. It also facilitates notification to potential registrants of domains matching TMCH entries during the first 60/90 days of general availability.

The TMCH has been categorized as a Rights Protection Mechanism, however submission to the TMCH does NOT prevent registrations or block others from registering trademarks as domain names.

The big question for most companies has now become, what specifically should be submitted to the TMCH?

The easy answer is that companies should plan to submit any trademark for which they desire a Sunrise registration. Utilizing trademarks that can be easily validated by the TMCH is one approach to consider. Remember also to qualify for Sunrise registrations, "Proof of Use" must be submitted to the TMCH. Acceptable examples of "Proof of Use" include labels, tags, or containers from a product as well as advertising and marketing materials including brochures, pamphlets, catalogues, product manuals, displays or signage, press releases, screen shots, or social media marketing materials.

Do keep in mind that some Registries may have special jurisdictional requirements specifying that in order to qualify for a Sunrise registration, that the trademark must be registered in a particular country. While I expect this to be more of an exception than the norm, companies should be prepared to submit additional trademarks for the same brands based on additional information as it is made available by each New gTLD Registry.

By Elisa Cooper, Director of Product Marketing at MarkMonitor. Elisa Cooper also contributes to the MarkMonitor weblog located here.

Related topics: Cybersquatting, Domain Names, Top-Level Domains

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