The new generic top-level domain (gTLD) program, which the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is due to launch in the second half of 2013, has been created to increase competition and choice in the domain name space. It will allow domain names to be registered which do not relate to a specific geographic location or country (e.g. .com.au), but to specific keywords (e.g. .music) or even specific brands (e.g. .amazon).

The expansion of the domain name space means that trade mark infringers and domain name squatters may have more opportunity to file abusive registrations and infringe trade mark rights. The Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) has been created in anticipation of this and will serve as a central repository of trade mark information.  

Trade mark owners are allowed to submit their trade mark information into the centralised database. If an application is submitted for a new gTLD which matches a trade mark recorded on TMCH’s centralised database, the applicant will receive a notification from ICANN. If the applicant decides to proceed with the registration for the gTLD, ICANN will notify the relevant trade mark owner in order to take appropriate action against the applicant, should they wish to do so.