The Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) is a centralised repository of validated registered trade marks. It is designed to safeguard trade marks in generic top level domain (gTLD) spaces and its protections form part of every new gTLD’s registry agreement with ICANN, the body that operates the Internet naming space.

What are the benefits?

There are two major reasons to register marks in the TMCH. Firstly, it provides rights protection mechanisms in every new gTLD and, secondly, it allows registrants to take part in sunrise periods when new gTLD spaces are launched.

In terms of rights protection, a third party domain name registrant will receive a warning notice when attempting to register a domain name that matches a trade mark in the TMCH. If, after receiving and accepting the notice, the domain name registrant continues to register the domain name, the trade mark holder’s agent will receive notification of the registration, so it can take appropriate action. Notifications will be sent for the duration of each sunrise period and for the first 90 days of each gTLD’s operation. Registries may extend the 90-day notice period at their discretion.

In addition, when each new gTLD space is launched, TMCH registrants will be able to register domain names corresponding to their rights for at least 30 days in advance of the general public. This process is designed to prevent cybersquatting. Companies cannot take part in sunrise periods if marks are not registered in the TMCH and, in most cases, must wait under the general landrush period in which domains are generally allocated on a first-come first-served basis.

How can businesses take part?

To receive all benefits provided by the TMCH, businesses will need a registered trade mark and to provide proof of its use. The rules concerning what is and isn’t applicable and how characters – such as ampersands – are dealt with are complicated. Therefore if you would like to protect your marks in the TMCH then please contact your usual account manager at Demys for an overview of the requirements.

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