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Trademark Clearinghouse lowers prices

Kevin Murphy, March 21, 2013, Domain Services

The Deloitte-managed Trademark Clearinghouse has slashed its bulk submission prices in response to feedback from registrars.

A newly revised TMCH price list leaves the basic fees of $145 to $95 per mark per year untouched, but makes it much easier for large trademark owners and brand protection companies to qualify for discounts.

The system for securing bulk discounts is based on “Status Points” that accumulate as trademarks are submitted, with five pricing tiers available.

The changes mean submission agents need to rack up 1,000 points in order to become eligible for the first discount tier, instead of 3,000. The cheapest tier is accessible at 90,000 points instead of 100,000.

The TMCH has also doubled the number of bonus points awarded for submitting trademarks during the “early bird” phase, which runs until the first new gTLD sunrise period begins, making it easier to hit discount milestones.

TMCH Cost CalculatorAccording to the Trademark Clearinghouse Cost Calculator, which has been updated with the new numbers, savings could be substantial.

For example, a submission agent that submits 10,000 marks for five-year registrations during the early bird period will pay $5,232,125, which is $742,950 cheaper than under the old pricing scheme.

That would be an average cost of $104.64 per mark per year, compared to $119.50 under the old regime.

A listing in the TMCH is a prerequisite if a trademark owner wants to participate in new gTLD sunrise periods or take advantage of the Trademark Claims cybersquatting alert service.

We gather that the price reductions came largely as a result of feedback from registrars that plan to act as submission agents, rather than from trademark owners themselves.

ICANN to adopt most of the new gTLD “strawman”

Kevin Murphy, March 20, 2013, Domain Policy

ICANN has given a boost to trademark owners by saying it will implement most of the controversial “strawman” solution to extend protections under the new gTLD program.

In a video just posted to ICANN’s web site, CEO Fadi Chehade said that Claims 2 and the Limited Preventative Registrations proposals have been thrown out for the moment as matters requiring policy work.

But many more aspects of the strawman have been classed as “implementation” and will go ahead.

This means:

  • A mandatory 30-day notice period before sunrises begin.
  • Trademark Claims extended from 60 to 90 days.
  • Tradermark owners will be able to add up to 50 confusingly similar strings to each of their Trademark Clearinghouse records, provided the string had been part of a successful UDRP complaint.

Chehade said:

We are going to implement a 30 day notice period before each sunrise. We’re also going to extend the Trademark Claims period from 60 to 90 days. The Claims 2 period which was discussed frankly did not receive a lot of support from many of you so we’re going to let that go for now.

And then finally there was a lot of discussion about extending the Trademark Claims protection to abuse names and after much debate on whether this is a new program or an extension of what we’re doing we came to the conclusion it is an implementation extension and we will move forward with that.

In the video, Chehade also says that ICANN is on track to start publishing the first results of new gTLD initial evaluations this Friday, as expected.

But he warned that if applicants and registrars do not agree on the proposed Registry Agreement and Registrar Accreditation Agreement, ICANN might miss its April 23 deadline for approving the first gTLDs.

He said:

Let me be clear: if we do not come together towards an agreement on these things we might experience a delay in the program, which I have committed to you that we will be ready for on April 23rd. So from an ICANN staff standpoint and operations standpoint we remain ready to request new gTLDs for delegation on April 23rd. But without these agreements we might experience a delay.

He directly referenced the massive sticking point in these discussions: the fact that ICANN wants to introduce a unilateral right of amendment into both contracts.

Here’s the full video:

Trademark Clearinghouse to open March 26

Kevin Murphy, February 25, 2013, Domain Policy

The Trademark Clearinghouse is set to open its doors for submissions March 26, ICANN will announce today.

From that date, trademark owners and their agents will be able to start uploading trademark data, enabling them to participate in one or two of the new gTLD program’s rights protection mechanisms.

Adding a mark to the TMCH qualifies it for the Trademark Claims service, which notifies both rights-holders and registrants whenever somebody tries to register a domain matching the mark.

Trademark Claims will run for at least the first 60 days after each new gTLD launches, but ICANN may extend that window depending on the outcome of its “strawman” discussions.

Many trademarks will also qualify for Sunrise periods in new gTLDs by being entered into the Clearinghouse.

Submissions start at $150 per mark per year, with discounts available when marks are registered in bulk.

DI PRO subscribers can work out how painful the TMCH will be on their wallets, and how to maximize their discounts, using our Trademark Clearinghouse Cost Calculator.

The TMCH is being managed by Deloitte, with a back-end database run by IBM.

While March 26 is just four weeks before ICANN expects to approve the first new gTLDs, I wouldn’t expect to see the first Sunrise periods for a few months after that.

The TMCH is still subject to some fierce debate, and not only because of the proposed strawman changes.

On the technical side, registries and registrars have been fuming recently about the lack of any hard technical specifications for integration, which will be needed when the new gTLDs launch.

Last night, ICANN finally posted the first spec as an IETF Internet Draft.

The format, “Mark and Signed Mark Objects Mapping” describes an Extensible Provisioning Protocol extension used by the TMCH to exchange data with registries about registered trademarks.

Chehade: “Honestly, if it was up to me, I would delay the whole release of new gTLDs by at least a year…”

Kevin Murphy, January 25, 2013, Domain Policy

“…but I’m not going to.”

CEO Fadi Chehade this afternoon delivered a blisteringly frank assessment of ICANN’s new gTLD program, admitting that if it were up to him he would delay the whole thing by a year.

Speaking bluntly, mainly to registries and registrars, at a regional ICANN meeting in Amsterdam this afternoon, Chehade painted a stark picture of the challenge ICANN faces in meeting its deadlines.

It’s worth quoting at length:

Honestly, if it was up to me, I would delay the whole release of new gTLDs by at least a year.

I’m being very candid with you. I know none of you want to hear this, and I’m not going to do this — let me repeat, I’m not going to do this — but you should know that a lot of the foundations that I would be comfortable with, as someone who has built businesses before, are just not yet there.

I’m being super-candid with you because many of you wrote me in the last three weeks to say: ‘Be up-front with us, we’re business-people, tell us the truth.’ Well, the truth is that the people, processes and tools to enable a sector such as this are being built as the car is already running very fast.

We’re putting enormous pressure on our team to not to slip by a day. I’m now managing them with Akram [Atallah, COO] down to days. Before I came it was by quarters, by months, and I say no — every day we slip we’re delaying this industry from serving the market it’s supposed to serve.

It’s just a different mindset. And it’s a difference set of, frankly, talents that we’re bringing to the table. We have people who took six years to write the [new gTLD Applicant] Guidebook and we’re asking engineers and software people and third-party vendors and hundreds of people to get that whole program running in six months.

When the number two at IBM called me, Erich Clementi, after we signed the deal with them to do the [Trademark Clearinghouse] he said “Are you nuts?”. Literally, quote. He said: “Fadi you’ve built these systems for us before. You know it takes three times the amount of time it takes to write the specs to build reliable systems.”

But that’s the position we’re in, guys. I’m being candid with you. I know all of I know all of you want me to have this thing up and running yesterday. I want it running the day before yesterday. But this is what we’re facing. We’re facing a difficult situation, we’re working hard as we can, our people are at the edge. We have people who are working seven days a week now — it’s never happened before — on the new gTLD program.

We’re hiring as fast as we can. We’re now taking away from Christine [Willett, new gTLD program manager] some of the work she had to do so she can communicate better with you.

We’re doing a whole bunch of things so we can deliver this for you.

I don’t mean to scare you, because I know many of your businesses rely on this, but the right people are now in place, we’re building it as fast as we can but I want you to understand that this is tough, and I wish it were different. I wish you would all raise your hands and say: “You know what? Let’s take a break and meet in a year”.

I know you can’t do that, I know I can’t do that, and I know that the market can’t wait for that.

We’re going to do our best, and if in the process if we miss telling you something, if we move too fast on something before we share it with everybody as we normally should… give us a little bit of a break.

I don’t want to delay this program, but under all circumstances my mind would tell me: stop.

Chehade’s remarks come two weeks after new gTLD applicants gave new program manager Willett a good kicking during a webinar updating them on the program’s progress, during which it was revealed that a key deadline had been missed for at least the fourth or fifth time.

What else can we learn from his comments?

Well… here’s my interpretation:

  • Put down the mic and back off, Kinderis. Yeah, that means you too, Fausett, and you, Neuman.
  • It will be an absolute miracle if the Trademark Clearinghouse doesn’t suffer from teething troubles.
  • Applicants are almost certainly going to see more delays of some form or another (always a safe prediction), and probably from the place they least expect it.
  • The program wasn’t ready when it was approved in May 2011 (as many people, including yours truly, said at the time and have continued to say since).
  • It’s probably not much fun working at ICANN right now, but at least the new boss knows what the hell he’s doing.

Check out our Trademark Clearinghouse Cost Calculator

Kevin Murphy, January 24, 2013, Domain Services

The forthcoming Trademark Clearinghouse — which will underpin Sunrise periods in new gTLDs as well as the new Trademark Claims service — released its price list yesterday.

Two payment mechanisms are expected to be available: Basic, for trademark owners with 10 or fewer trademarks, and Advanced, for large trademark portfolio owners and companies that wish to act as submission agents (such as digital brand management companies).

As the prepaid Advanced system is somewhat complex, with five tiers of discount and an accumulating points-based mechanism for determining eligibility, we’ve designed a simple, easy-to-use tool for helping companies calculate their likely fees.

DI PRO subscribers can check out the Trademark Clearinghouse Cost Calculator here.

Simply enter how many one-year, three-year and five-year registrations you expect to make, and the tool will present three pricing scenarios, designed to show what possible savings could be made by submitting longer-term registrations before others.

The tool also supports the Early Bird bonuses that the Clearinghouse intends to offer. These bonuses make it easier to achieve discounts more quickly, but only for registrations are submitted before the first new gTLD’s Sunrise period goes live.

The under-the-hood calculations are based on the official pricing scheme published yesterday by the Clearinghouse here (in PDF format).