A Beginners Guide to the Trademark Clearinghouse

18 01 2014

Trademark law can be highly complex and difficult to navigate. Combine trademark law with the release of new GTLD domain names, and you have significant brand protection challenges. In an effort to remove some of the ambiguity, we’ve put together a beginners guide to protecting your trademark by using the Trademark Clearinghouse. 

What is a trademark?

Let’s start at the very beginning, with a quick look at exactly what constitutes a trademark. If you haven’t already trademarked your brand, you should definitely consider it; a trademark is an essential way to identify, and protect, your unique brand. It can be a valuable marketing tool.

A trademark is used to distinguish the goods or services of one person from another. A trademark may be granted for a name, symbol, logo, device, word and even a sound or a smell. Trademarks are registered within one or more of 45 classes of goods and services, ranging from telecommunications, construction and medical services to chemicals, meats and alcoholic beverages. McDonald’s golden arches and Coca-Cola’s distinctive red and white packaging are both trademarks.

Once registered, you have the legal right to use, licence or sell your trademark. You can also prevent other people from using it. The bottom line is, if you decide not to trade mark your brand, someone else might. Then they may prevent you from using it.

How do I protect my trademark online?

Once you have registered your trademark, you need to consider how you are going to safeguard it in the online space. We suggest that you register it in the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH).

What is the Trademark Clearinghouse?

Developed by ICANN, the TMCH is the only global online database of trademark information specifically created for the launch of the new GTLD domain names. The TMCH receives applications for eligible trademark registrations in preparation for upcoming releases of new gTLDs (generic Top Level Domains like .com, .info, .net and .org) by ICANN. The verified trademark data stored in the TMCH supports trademark claims and sunrise services, required for all new gTLDs.

What types of trademarks can be registered in the Trademark Clearinghouse?

There are four types of trademarks that are eligible for registration in the TMCH:

  1. Nationally or regionally registered trademarks from all jurisdictions
  2. Trademarks that have been validated through a court of law or other judicial proceeding
  3. Trademarks protected by a statute or treaty that is in effect when the mark is submitted
  4. Other trademarks that constitute intellectual property may be submitted by arrangement

What are the benefits of using the Trademark Clearinghouse?

With the expected release of hundreds of new gTLDs over the next 12 months, the TMCH is an important protection mechanism for your trademark rights in the online space. Benefits of using the TMCH include:

  • Peace of mind.The TMCH is the only way to ensure you have the first option to register domain names that match your trademark during the sunrise period of a new gTLD, and to receive immediate notification of potential trademark infringements by new gTLDs.
  • Consolidated trademark management. The TMCH is one central depository for the storage of all your trademark information.
  • Time savings. You submit your trademark information to the TMCH just once. It is then effective for the entire lifecycle of your mark (reliant on annual fee payment).
  • Cost savings.There are no hidden costs associated with trademark verification via the TMCH. You pay one small annual fee to the TMCH, which secures participation rights for the thousands of Sunrise periods each year.

Cooper Mills assists clients to register their marks with the TMCH. Contact us today.


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