The Trademark Clearinghouse: a partial solution

Published on: 08 October 2013
by Ms. Clemence Le Cointe, Trademark Lawyer at Dennemeyer & Associates, Munich

The Internet community has been following the launch of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) since 2010 and has eagerly awaited the launch of the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH). Even if the discussions revolve around which new gTLDs applications have successfully passed the examination, protection of trademark owners against the impact of these gTLDs remains the main goal.

On the one hand, it is indisputable that the TMCH is an efficient tool for trademark owners to register domain names during the Sunrise Period. On the other, the Trademark Claims service, which enables trademark owners to receive notifications of potentially infringing identical domain registrations for a limited period of 90 days after the Sunrise Period of a new gTLD, raises a major question: does the recording of a trademark with the TMCH sufficiently guarantee that a conflicting identical or similar domain name cannot be fraudulently registered?

Within the scope of the Trademark Claims service, a potential domain name registrant gets a warning notice when attempting to register a domain name that matches a recorded sign in the TMCH. If, after receiving and accepting the notice, the domain name registrant further registers the domain name, the trademark holder with a corresponding mark will receive notification of the domain name registration, so that it can take any appropriate action.

This means that the applicant for registration of the domain name is the first to be informed that a conflict could result from the domain name registration. The trademark owner having registered (with costs) its trademarks with the TMCH is only informed second, if the domain name applicant decides to pursue the registration despite the notification.

Read the full article in the World IP Review magazine - September/October 2013 edition.