The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) recently launched a new trademark clearinghouse. It aims to help companies protect their trademarks when new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) become available in the coming months.
While entities have traditionally been limited to an Internet extension such as .com, .net or .org, ICANN will now allow businesses, organizations, and governments to operate a gTLD of their own choosing. While the new domain names offer additional opportunities for businesses to market their brands, they also come with risks, notably trademark abuse and cybersquatting.
To help alleviate these risks, ICANN’s Sunrise Service will allow trademark owners to register their marks before new domains are launched. A sunrise period of at least 30 days is mandatory for all new gTLDs and having a validated trademark entry in the Clearinghouse is required to participate in the limited pre-registration period.
Meanwhile, the Trademark Claims Service will send warnings to both domain name registrants as well as trademark holders when possible infringement is detected. If a person attempts to register a domain after receiving notice that the trademark is owned by someone else, ICANN will notify the trademark owner and the owner will have options for challenging the website registration.
Of course, these protections come at an expense. The cost to register a trademark ranges from $95 to $150 a year.