Why your clients need to know about the Trademark Clearinghouse

You’ve heard us talk about new TLDs quite a bit in the recent past, and we promise that there’s even more to come. While the launch of the first new extension is probably still a few months away, there is one thing you should start talking about to your customers now – the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH).

As we have mentioned in an earlier post, the TMCH will be the central repository of trademark data, to be used by each and every new top-level domain to protect trademark holders at launch. But why is the TMCH relevant to you and your clients? It’s a domain add-on service you can make money on, and it can make the life of your business customers a lot easier.

What is the TMCH?

Trademark Clearinghouse logoTo explain this and better understand the benefits of the TMCH, let me give some more background on what it actually does. Any registered trademark of at least national effect in any country in the world can go into the Clearinghouse, with a few funny exceptions – no dots (.) and no existing TLDs (e.g. mytradmark.org) are allowed.

Once submitted, the TMCH will check with the relevant trademark register if the trademark exists and if it really belongs to the holder who submitted it. If the application is approved, it’s inserted to the TMCH database, which is the entry ticket to two great priority services: Sunrise and Claims Notices.

Sunrise

What’s so great about Sunrise – isn’t it super complicated and a big mess after all? Well, it might have been in the past. The TMCH however makes Sunrise phases what they really should be – an easy, standardized and cost-effective way to secure your trademark as a domain name ahead of everyone else in any new TLD you want.

And that is really everyone – any new TLD to come will be required to launch with a Sunrise phase for trademarks that are in the TMCH. The intellectual property community has been fighting for this over years and years, and they succeeded – if you own a trademark, you stand first in line at launch.

Claims Notices

Claims Notices is another unique service available through the TMCH. It kicks in after the Sunrise phase of each new TLD, and does two things.

First, whenever somebody tries to register a domain that matches a trademark in the TMCH, that person will receive a notice and acknowledge this fact before it’s possible to complete the registration.

Second, if that person continues the registration anyway, a second notice will be sent to the trademark holder, making him aware that this registrant potentially infringes on his trademark. That service comes at no additional cost, and it’s available during the first 90 days of each new TLD’s public launch phase.

No other third-party domain monitoring service can step in and warn registrants before they even unintentionally infringe on a mark.

Who is the TMCH For?

While I truely believe that the TMCH is a great service, it will be most interesting to your SMB and corporate customers. The potential customer base is huge, it’s not only the handful of globally known brands. In the US alone, there are currently over 1.8 million registered trademarks, with over 400,000 new filings in 2012. Germany has close to 800,000 registered marks, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) reports a total number of over 3 million internationally valid trademarks.

This is large base of potential customers, and if you have any business customers, it is very likely at least some of them will have a trademark. You don’t want to send those high-value customers somewhere else.

So the TMCH is a great service that has a lot of value for what trademark owners usually consider a discount price – expect the TMCH charge from us to be at around $200 per year. The one drawback is – most businesses are not aware yet that new TLDs and the TMCH are coming. You will need to tell them about it, and we recommend to start doing that rather now to give your customers plenty of time to make up their minds.

Over the next couple of months, we’ll provide you with non-branded education materials that you can use to convey the message to your clients. We’ll keep you posted.

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