Trademark Clearinghouse opens for business


The Trademark Clearinghouse has opened today and is running smoothly, according to financial services provider Deloitte, which is validating marks sent to the online repository.

The Clearinghouse is a centralised trademark database that helps to protect rights under the new generic top-level domain (gTLD) programme, which is set to officially launch on April 23 this year.

Trademark owners and their agents began testing the system only last week, causing some concern they would be ill-prepared for today’s launch.

But there have been “no hiccups” so far, said Jan Corstens, partner at Deloitte, adding that fewer than 10 marks had been validated three hours after the Clearinghouse opened this morning.

Corstens said he expects trademark owners and agents to get “up and running this week” before “validation is up to full speed in April and May”, when the bulk of registrations are predicted while the first new gTLDs are processed.

Before validating marks, Deloitte carries out background and administrative checks on all applicants. Once processed, an order goes into a validation queue while Deloitte checks that it meets all eligibility requirements, including proof of use. If the application contains errors, the trademark owner has a chance to correct them.

Corstens said unless a large number of applications are filed simultaneously, he expects Deloitte to validate marks within a maximum of 20 days after they are submitted.

The Clearinghouse will support sunrise (open before general registration) and trademark claims periods. Under the claims service, the Clearinghouse will send warnings to people trying to register domains matching a validated mark for 90 days.

The claims service was extended from 60 to 90 days earlier this month, as part of the so-called strawman model, which trademark owners have been pushing for to better protect their rights. Under the model, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has also said rights owners can now submit 50 abused variations of their marks into the Clearinghouse.

Corstens said he was unsure whether Deloitte will accept 50 variations of a mark in a single application or if they must be paid for individually, adding that the timeframe for implementing the strawman model is unclear.

Deloitte will accept both word and device marks, and will charge $150 per mark per year, with small discounts available for three and five-year registrations. Under an advanced pricing model, trademark agents receive discounts as they earn ‘status points’ from registering or renewing large numbers of trademarks. 

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

trademark clearinghouse, deloitte, icann, gtlds, jan corstens

Trademarks and Brands Online