ICANN, the agency that oversees the domain name system, is planning to launch what it calls a Trademark Clearinghouse next month to help companies and individuals protect their rights as new top-level domains roll out later this year.
Rights owners will be able to submit their trademark information into a central database for verification and, once verified, they’ll have two primary benefits:
- “Sunrise Registration” will give verified rights owners the chance to register their marks as domain names before the general public.
- “Notification of Registration” is an alert service that will work during “sunrise” and “claims” periods, telling rights holders when someone registers a domain that matches their trademarks. It also warns the registrant that s/he is trying to register a trademarked name.
The latter is just an alert service and doesn’t attempt to block the registration of domains that match a trademark; if the registrant follows through with the registration, the two parties would have to go through normal dispute procedures.
There are different fee structures involved — the most basic of which costs $150 per year.
According to the Associated Press, ICANN is planning to start making some new top-level domains available in mid-2013, and likely in Chinese and other non-English languages at first.