The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will open the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) for submission of trademark rights on March 26, 2013. Though limited, the TMCH will provide the primary trademark protection mechanisms for those that wish to proactively protect trademark rights in the nearly 2,000 new Top-Level Domains anticipated to begin delegation later this year.1
With the expansion of Top-Level Domains underway, trademark owners are facing a dramatic increase of cybersquatting and Internet infringement concerns. In an effort to provide some protection to these brand owners, ICANN has directed the establishment of the TMCH. Registering existing trademark rights in the TMCH provides brand owners two trademark protections for Second-Level Domains: (1) Sunrise Application Periods and (2) the Trademark Claims Service.
Sunrise Periods are a limited time period where trademark owners are allowed to register their trademarks as Second-Level Domain names in advance of the general public. The Trademark Claims Service is a limited period where both the domain name registrant and the trademark holder are notified if an applied for Second-Level Domain matches a trademark in the TMCH. To take advantage of both of these protections, trademark owners will need to submit proof of ownership and proof of use for nationally or regionally registered trademarks, trademarks validated through judicial proceedings or a court of law, or trademarks protected by a treaty or statute that was in effect on or before June 3, 2008.