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Understanding the Trademark Clearinghouse

December 2, 2013

The Internet is undergoing a significant makeover with the rollout of hundreds of new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs). They will create a vastly expanded universe of web addresses.

While this presents many opportunities, some intellectual property owners are concerned about the risks. A recent survey, commissioned by Deloitte and conducted by Vanson Bourne, found that 83 percent of leading U.S. businesses believe that the current domain name system makes it difficult to protect trademarks. With a huge number of new names expected to appear within the next few months, protecting trademarks will prove to be an even more trying process. In this scenario, the new Trademark Clearinghouse has an important role to play.

This article explains why registering with the Clearinghouse is crucial to protecting IP. For example, for a period of at least 90 days after each new web extension launches, trademark holders will receive a warning if someone else registers a domain name that matches their mark or marks, and as a result they will have an early opportunity to deal with trademark infringement.

The Clearinghouse, which officially launched this past March, was developed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), working with intellectual property experts, specifically to provide a way for trademark holders to protect their rights during the expansion of Internet domains. Using the Trademark Clearinghouse is a first and critical step towards securing and defending a company’s intellectual property.

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