Some top level domains (TLDs) may be eligible for registration as a trademark in the US under limited circumstances as the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking feedback on a new plan to allow companies to do so.
The proposals would not allow firms to get trademarks on TLDs unless they have a contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to manage that TLD as a registry.
The USPTO has just opened up a comment period for an Examination Guide on trademark applications for new generic top level domains (gTLDs).
Should this happen, it would be a distinct shift from the current rules that disallow trademarks on TLDs. The existing restrictions are based on the existing set of gTLDs, but ICANN’s new gTLD program has shifted the landscape.
The USPTO is now looking for constructive input on “a draft version of an examination guide on marks comprised of gTLDs,” according to the USPTO website.
The guide states individuals will need to have a contract with ICANN to operate a new gTLD registry before applying for a trademark for it.
Any applicant must show that they have entered into a currently valid registry agreement with ICANN designating the applicant as the entity responsible for operation of the registry, such as maintaining the database and generating the zone file for the gTLD identified by the mark. There are other eligibility requirements outlined in the draft guide.
The comment period will close on September 8th 2013.