by Phillip Barengolts, Partner
On September 24, 2012, ICANN requested comments on two important procedures in the implementation of the Trademark Clearinghouse – proof of trademark use and determination of a match. http://www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-7-24sep12-en.htm. The Trademark Clearinghouse will serve as a repository used by trademark owners to protect against the use of their marks for domain names in any of the new gTLDs during the sunrise period of a new gTLD and for trademark claims generally. See prior coverage here: http://blog.pattishall.com/2011/11/08/trademark-protection-in-icann%E2%80%99s-new-generic-top-level-domain-%E2%80%9Cgtld%E2%80%9D-space-will-require-diligence-by-trademark-owners/. The deadline to submit comments is November 7, 2012.
The specific procedures for which ICANN seeks comment now are: 1) the procedures that the Trademark Clearinghouse will use to verify that a claimed trademark is in use; and 2) the process by which the Trademark Clearinghouse will determine a match between a trademark recorded with the Trademark Clearinghouse and an applied-for domain name. Highlights of these memoranda are below.
Proof of Use
ICANN has decided that only marks that are in use will be provided protection through the Trademark Clearinghouse during the sunrise period of a new gTLD. Most jurisdictions throughout the world do not require proof of use to obtain a trademark registration, but the U.S. does have such a requirement (with notable exceptions for foreign trademark registration holders).
To prove use, a trademark owner must submit a signed declaration of use and a single sample of current use. The specific proposed declaration is below:
The [Trademark Holder/Licensee/Agent] hereby certifies that the information submitted to the Clearinghouse, is, to the best of [Trademark Holder/Licensee/Agent’s] knowledge complete and accurate, that the trademarks set forth in this submission are currently in use in the manner set forth in the accompanying specimen, in connection with the class of goods or services specified when this submission was made to the Trademark Clearinghouse; that this information is not being presented for any improper purpose; and that if, at any time, the information contained in this submission is no longer accurate, the [Trademark Holder/Licensee/Agent] will notify the Clearinghouse within a reasonable time of that information which is no longer accurate, and to the extent necessary, provide that additional information necessary for the submission to be accurate. Furthermore, if any Clearinghouse-verified mark subsequently becomes abandoned by the holder, the holder will notify the Clearinghouse within a reasonable time that the mark has been abandoned.
The sample of use must be “an item that evidences an effort on behalf of the trademark holder to communicate to a consumer so that the consumer can distinguish the products or services of one from those of another.” Examples include:
- Labels, tags, or containers from a product; and
- Advertising and marketing materials (including brochures, pamphlets, catalogues, product manuals, displays or signage, press releases, screen shots, or social media marketing materials). (more…)