Survey Reveals Uncertainty with Trademark Clearinghouse Strategy

CSC Digital Brand Services are registered agents of the Trademark Clearinghouse

As ICANN’s New gTLD program marches forward—with more than five hundred applications having passed evaluation already—trademark owners are bracing for the arrival of the first Sunrise period.

One of the main ways they’re getting ready is by filing their trademarks with the Trademark Clearinghouse, an important rights-protection mechanism built into the New gTLD program. Established by ICANN and managed by Deloitte, the Trademark Clearinghouse provides a central database in which brand owners can register their marks in advance of the first Sunrise period.

Still, it’s appropriate to ask whether companies really believe the Trademark Clearinghouse will protect their marks. A recent survey suggests that they do. A poll of more than 200 business-to-consumer companies in the U.S. and UK, commissioned by the Trademark Clearinghouse and conducted by Vanson Bourne, found that a majority of respondents do believe ICANN’s program provides adequate protections.

The study gauged general awareness of the new gTLD program, the level of planned participation in the Trademark Clearinghouse, and the perceived threat the new gTLDs present to trademark holders. An overwhelming number of those surveyed—more than 90% of medium-sized businesses and roughly 70% of large businesses—said they believed the Trademark Clearinghouse would help protect their companies’ intellectual property online across the new gTLD space.

While most businesses expressed confidence that the Trademark Clearinghouse would serve its intended purpose, they were less sure of whether they would actually participate in it. Fifty percent responded “maybe” when asked if they planned to register their companies’ trademarks in the Clearinghouse.

According to Tommy Ho, product manager at CSC Digital Brand Services, their ambivalence is understandable. The New gTLDs represent a massive change in the online name space, and many companies are still uncertain of how they should proceed. “From marketing and legal to IT, new gTLDs affect a number of cross-functional groups within businesses,” says Ho. “These survey results confirm that companies are unsure of their strategy and how to plan for this imminent change.”

Registering their marks with the Trademark Clearinghouse is a critical first step, says Ho. “From Sunrise domains and trademark claims to the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) system and registry-specific rights protection programs, the Trademark Clearinghouse provides a cost-effective way to participate in each of these programs,” he says.

With new gTLDs set to launch later this year, he emphasized the need to begin planning now.  “Organizations should begin discussions internally, consult with their partners, and build a plan to leverage the opportunities, as well as mitigate the risks, that new gTLDs pose.”

As the industry leader for “dot brand” new gTLD applications and an authorized agent for the Trademark Clearinghouse, CSC Digital Brand Services can help you every step of the way. Contact your CSC Digital Brand Services representative now to learn more.

To learn more about new gTLD applications and the Trademark Clearinghouse please contact CSC Digital Brand Services. CSC is a registered agent of the Trademark Clearinghouse.