Following up on a related question: When you register for an Internet domain within the "sunrise" period that trademark owners can use (this period is often 30 days), you need an SMD file to prove your ownership. Such files are issued by trademark clearinghouses (TMCH).

My question is, how do I obtain an SMD file for my business, the easiest way? ICANN links to trademark-clearinghouse.com. And this is the only TMCH I've found so far. (Are there any alternatives?) However, registering for an account there seems very scary as some options call for a deposit of $15,000 just for registering. Why?

Also, does the SMD need to correspond exactly to the legal name of my business or could it be a variation thereof? For instance, if I hold the trademark of "Acme Corp", could I get a SMD file for acme or does the trademark only entitle me to an SMD for acmecorp?


Trademark Clearinghouse is the only central database used by all gTLDs during their sunrises, as you found out on ICANN website.

You need to use one of its agents: http://www.trademark-clearinghouse.com/agents

They will handle both

  1. registering your trademark in the Clearinghouse
  2. giving you the SMD file when you do attempt the registrations

Note that some of them are domain names registrars too, so they could provide you an unified experience for both cases. Or you can prefer to separate things in multiple providers.

You do not need to register yourself as the ClearingHouse directly except if you want to become an agent or register your trademarks directly there yourself without going through an agent (which probably will not make sense to register only one trademark).

As for the rules on names matching, please have a look at https://newgtlds.icann.org/en/about/trademark-clearinghouse/matching-rules-14jul16-en.pdf

But basically:

“Identical Match” means that the domain name consists of the complete and identical textual elements of the mark.

Then you have extra rules to deal with characters that can not appear in a domain names, problems with logos and color, handling languages and variants, etc.

If your trademark is on "ACME, corp." (instead of just on ACME), then your eligible domain name will be basically the label acmecorp or acme-corp.

Any ClearingHouse agent, or any legal counsel versed into domain names and ICANN gTLDs should be able to let you know what labels you are entitled to based on your existing trademarks.

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