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The TMCH (Trademark Clearing House) helps companies preserve copyright and trademark rights. The TCMH, however, is more of a mechanism than an institution. It is a process that protects the protection of trademarks and copyrights. Both IBM and consulting company Deloitte are involved in this process and act as coordinators in the allocation of new generic domain names. ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is the client.
The TMCH was launched by ICANN for the purpose of introducing new domain names. Generic top level domains (gTLD) such as .berlin, .nike or .shop are among the new domain name options and have only been introduced since early 2013. This means that well-known brands such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon or Google can register such gTLDs, provided that they have submitted corresponding proposals.
The TMCH provides paid services which will inform you about any trademark infringement.
To ensure that queries from domain names do not violate trademark rights, the Trademark Clearinghouse provides a centralized database maintained by IBM. If a record is identical to a new registration, the copyrights will first be clarified. Only when this is done will a new domain be released.
To create such a data record, companies must register directly with the TMCH or commission an agent. Storage in this database represents a permanent but indirect protection against trademark and copyright infringement when a registering gTLD.
However, only domain names are allowed for the database which are classified as intellectual property, defined by contracts and by statutes, and judicially confirmed. It is irrelevant which country the company or the trademark owner originates from.
The TMCH provides two procedures to ensure the protection of brand names. Brand owners must also observe some rules.
Before the introduction of a new domain, brands can register for this domain. This is a preventive protection against third parties who wish to register such domains to commit cybersquatting, i.e. to direct visitors that have entered a brand name into the search bar on a search engine.
Trademark claim service
If there is an entry in the TMCH database, the trademark owner is notified immediately as soon as a third party attempts to register a domain with this name.
In fact, the TMCH cannot provide reliable protection because third parties can nevertheless register a domain with a protected trademark name if they ignore the TMCH warning. However, the trademark owner has legal claims which he can enforce.
Relevance for online marketing
Observance of trademark and copyright law plays an important role in the registration of domains. If a trademark owner wants to protect his domains, the TMCH provides appropriate mechanisms. In this way, it can be used to protect certain character strings, which are identical to or similar to the brand name. Although this does not provide a reliable protection against legal violations, it serves at least as information to third parties who wish to register a new domain name with this brand name.
This step is highly recommended for well-known brands that value their corporate identity. Not the least because the trademark owner is immediately informed of possible violations of the law, but above all in order to make the appearance of the trademark uniform in terms of concepts and brand names.