On March 26, 2013, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will begin to allow trademark owners to submit their marks for inclusion in a newly created Trademark Clearinghouse, which is intended to serve as a single centralized database of verified information that will enable trademark holders throughout the world to better protect their rights on the Internet. This follow-up to “New Generic Top-Level Domain Names: What Brand Owners Need to Know” (June 15, 2012) introduces brand owners (and their licensees, assignees and agents) to several key elements of the Trademark Clearinghouse submission process, and describes the primary benefits that the Trademark Clearinghouse promises to provide to trademark rights holders.
ICANN, the private nonprofit corporation that manages most top-level domains (TLDs) and IP addresses, developed the Trademark Clearinghouse (in connection with Deloitte and IBM) as part of its new generic Top-Level Domain (New gTLD) Program. Generally speaking, the New gTLD Program allows any legal entity to file an application to create a new gTLD—the general domain name address extensions that come after the last dot (such as .com, .net., .org)—and, as a result, has the potential to significantly expand the existing Internet infrastructure by increasing the number of gTLDs to an almost unlimited amount (and simultaneously expanding the potential for online trademark infringement). Amid this expansion, the Trademark Clearinghouse was created to protect trademark rights holders by permitting them to more easily register second-level domain names under new gTLDs (e.g., YOURNAME.example), and to allow gTLD operators and registries to better review and assess trademark claims.
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