ICANN reveals Trademark Clearinghouse launch date


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) said on Monday that the Trademark Clearinghouse will open on March 26, 2013.

The centralised repository of marks provides access to sunrise and trademark claims periods, two rights-protection mechanisms (RPMs) under the new generic top-level domain (gTLD) programme.

Sunrise periods allow IP owners to register domains before the general public. During trademark claims periods, lasting at least 60 days after registries launch, the Clearinghouse will warn people that they are trying to register a domain matching a validated mark.

On March 26, IP owners can begin submitting their marks into the Clearinghouse, which financial services company Deloitte will validate. Technology corporation IBM will supply trademark data to all new gTLD registries during sunrise and trademark claims periods, and expects its systems to be ready “later in 2013”, according to ICANN.

Last week ICANN chief executive Fadi Chehadé said he is targeting April 23, 2013 to start launching the first new gTLDs.

ICANN said that the Clearinghouse’s launch date is “contingent on all systems being thoroughly tested and deemed ready for operation”, adding that it will be the world’s first centralised database of marks specifically designed for the domain name system.

Trademark owners will pay $150 to submit one mark into the Clearinghouse for one year, with three-year and five-year registrations each costing $435 and $725. Under an alternative advanced model, IP owners and their agents can pay discounted prices as they earn ‘status points’ from registering and renewing marks.

A confirmed launch date for the Clearinghouse, which has been a “long awaited piece of the new gTLD-RPM jigsaw”, will bring good news for trademark owners, said David Taylor, partner at Hogan Lovells LLP.

He added that rights owners may be concerned about another important March deadline to deal with. The comment period on closed generic gTLD applications – those that will not be publicly available – closes on March 7 and the deadline for objecting to new gTLDs applications is March 13.

“However, I do not think the March 26 date is in anyway a deadline to be too concerned about.  While the April 23 date [for launching new gTLDs] is a significant step in the continuing process, it does not mean that the flood of live new gTLDs will be coming on, or very soon after, April 23.” 

“What it does mean is that the first ones [gTLDs], which are not contested or objected to, will start to be recommended for delegation.  We could see certain new gTLDs offerings sunrise periods from as early as July this summer, but they could also be later.  Thus, rights owners should be spending the coming months carefully considering what trademarks they will need to put into the Clearinghouse.”

Deloitte is not the exclusive validator of marks and ICANN has not ruled out contracting with other parties if they meet the necessary criteria. Taylor said that, potentially, competitive pricing models could emerge in the coming weeks or months.

This article was first published on 26 February 2013 in World IP Review

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