Technology

ICANN Launches Trademark Protection Program for Domains

By / Mar 26, 2013 (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)
We’ve been telling brand owners it’s not that expensive to protect themselves and they ought to do it.

With a number of new top-level domains hitting the internet soon, the organization in charge of handing out such domains is offering trademark owners ways to protect their marks.

If you thought exclusive ownership of generic domains such as .book was a concern, just think of the issues that might arise when you try to protect your brand name on all those new domains.

Fortunately for trademark owners, one association successfully lobbied the the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for a way to proactively protect brand names from outside parties interested in purchasing new top-level domains. More details:

What it is: As part of its initiative to launch new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), ICANN on Tuesday launched  the Trademark Clearinghouse, an online system that allows trademark owners to verify their trademark data and pre-register their names before third parties have a chance to claim them. ICANN encourages trademark registrants to use the system ahead of time to protect their trademarks from potential website registrants. “The verified data in the Trademark Clearinghouse will be used to support both Trademark Claims and Sunrise Services, required in all new gTLDs,” the group notes on its FAQ page. “The Clearinghouse will play an important role in the New gTLD Program and in the ongoing protection of trademark rights.”

The benefits: The program represents a change from the old system, where brand owners asserted trademarks for each new top-level domain as it arose. Such a system would have grown clunky as new domains launched en masse. Brand owners will pay between $95 and $150 per year per trademark registered in the clearinghouse. (The video above describes the purpose of the new system.) Some domain suppliers, such as Donuts, also plan on allowing trademark owners to reject registrations of their domain names.

One group’s take: Keith Kupferschmid of the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), which pushed hard for a new system to protect trademarks, told PC World that the Trademark Clearinghouse “doesn’t necessarily prevent trademark infringement or cybersquatting, but it does help trademark owners and brand owners somewhat in mitigating the damage that might occur.” He added, “We’ve been telling brand owners it’s not that expensive to protect themselves, and they ought to do it.” SIIA  published an alert for its members [PDF] explaining the issues involved.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now and a former newspaper guy. More »

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