With potentially hundreds of new generic top level domains (“gTLDs,” e.g. .store, .law, .food) just around the corner, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)—the organization response for overseeing Internet domain name allocations–recently opened its Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH), where current brand owners can record their existing trademarks.

The database serves as a tool for current trademark owners to prevent opportunistic third parties from registering existing brand names, e.g. coke.drink, walmart.store.

Recording a mark with the TMCH provides two important benefits to a trademark holder:

1. Early Registration – prior to the launch of each new gTLD, an early “sunrise” registration period of at least 30 days is given to brand owners registered with the TMCH. This allows a brand owner to register a new domain with that gTLD identical to their trademark, and thereby prevents a third party from doing so; and

2. Notification – for at least 60 days following the opening of registration of a new gTLD to the general public (after the sunrise period), third party applicants who apply for a domain name that is identical to a recorded mark in the TMCH not registered by the brand owner during the sunrise period, will receive a notification of the trademark owner’s prior rights. If the third party proceeds with registration anyway, the brand owner will receive a notification of the third party’s registration.

In order to be eligible for trademark inclusion in the TMCH, the trademark must be a federally registered trademark; a court-validated trademark; or a trademark protected by statute or treaty. Registration fees for one year is $150, with modest discounts for 3 and 5 year registrations.

Companies concerned about third parties appropriating their trademarks in new gTLDs should review their current portfolios and determine which marks they should file with the TMCH. For more information, visit  http://trademark-clearinghouse.com/.